The wisdom and wit of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh:

By John Harrington

The outpouring of love, respect, and sadness since news broke of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh’s passing on Tuesday spoke volumes of the man.

How did the broadcasting legend manage to make such an equally positive impression on those he met and those who only connected to him through his media work?

The innate decency that radiated from him was the foundation stone, but it was his mastery of language and the cadence of his delivery that really struck a chord with so many.

His ability to paint a picture with words was unrivalled, and his rare combination of wisdom and wit was something special.

He might be gone, but his words will always live on.

The wisdom of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

“Being controversial is fine – but there must be substance to it. In other words, there’s another view to everything.”

“You learn a lot by looking at the players going into the dressing room. I remember the 2008 hurling final when Kilkenny gave what was classed as a near perfect display against Waterford. I thought Waterford looked really hyped up whereas Kilkenny looked very calm. When the Kilkenny players got off the bus they all had their hurleys in their hands already – as if the hurley was a part of themselves for the day.”

“A good turn creates goodwill. The greatest flood of goodwill the GAA got was when they opened Croke Park to rugby and soccer.”

“No known roof is as beautiful as the skies above.”

“I was always a person who accepted what was to come, because you have no power of what is to come. So what is the point in worrying about it. Others spend a long time worrying about that, and worrying is not good for you. Most of the things you worry about never materialise. I’d be a believer in that.”

“When you’re in the company of young people, young people are usually outgoing, they’re happy, they’re optimistic, and I think it helps to keep yourself that way too.”

“I always tell young people not to become what other people want you to become — become what you want to be. When it comes to work, the trick is to find a job you like to do. Interest is key, otherwise it quickly becomes a chore and you are counting the years until retirement.”

“I spent a few years teaching and that’s one thing I’d always say to young people, always look forward to things. Look forward with hope. Hope is the greatest thing of all.”

“Life has taught me that there is no point in looking back with regret. You can’t change the past. The only thing you can change is the immediate present and the future.”

“You might think your own way is best until someone else comes along with something different. That’s how we move things forward.”

“(The key to longevity is) Looking forward. Looking forward to the day ahead. That was part of a prayer I learned very young, it came from my Grandmother. Briefly translated it would be this: ‘Wake every morning with the rising of the sun and be looking forward to the day ahead as a great day. Be full of hope for the day that didn’t start yet.’ I think I had that motto.”

“I never felt I missed out on anything by not drinking. That’s a point I often made when visiting schools. Because a lot of people would tell me they drink because it’s expected of them, everybody does it. I’d say to them, ‘well, if you don’t think it suits you, then you should have the courage to say it’s okay for others, maybe not for me.’ You don’t do something because a lot of people do it.”

“The best advice I ever got was to persevere at whatever it is that you are trying to achieve. I’ve seen players as young as 19 who were lucky enough to be on an All- Ireland winning team — and others who had to play for 12 years or more before they realised their dream. The thing is not to give in, and remember: nobody has won the next one yet.”

“I see as I travel from one end of the country to the other or travel outside Ireland, it (The GAA) is a social vehicle where all the people of a community can have something in common. It gives a spirit to a place. And community spirit, I think, is much, much greater than financial wealth for a community to have. If they have a spirit, they’ll overcome a lot. The GAA supplies that in huge, huge amounts wherever the GAA is.”

“There’s too much discipline and control, I don’t believe a good player should be told going out on a field how he should play. The good player gauges the situation and generally does the right thing.”

“I had a good philosophy on betting – bet what you can afford to lose.”

“A person’s life is what they want, not what you want. So as far as possible I let them (his children) decide what they wanted to study and how they did it. I’d be the very opposite of being strict.”

“There are a couple of things I’d like to see — Irish society pulling together more so that we can achieve undreamt-of results. And Fermanagh winning an All-Ireland.”

“We have this phrase in the Gaelteacht, ‘Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís.’ That means, no matter who wins, whether it be everything or nothing, may we all be alive and well on this day next year. Le cunamh Dé, that’s all we can ask for.”

“It’s inevitable that it (death) will happen. You have no power over it, why worry about it until it confronts you? Then deal with it.”

“I’m definite there is something after death. That something could be something exciting like playing matches or whatever it is we’re led to believe it’s a state of happiness.”

“Once an All-Ireland Final is over, especially the last one of the year, it’s like closing in something but you’re already looking forward to the resurrection. And like the flowers that grow after the flowers dying with the frost of the winter, the new ones will come if you’re lucky enough to be around for them.”

The wit of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

“Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, his father’s from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji. Neither a hurling stronghold.”

“Pat Fox has it on his hurl and is motoring well now, but here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail … I’ve seen it all now, a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!”

“The stopwatch has stopped. It’s up to God and the referee now. The referee is Pat Horan. God is God.”

“Pat Fox out to the forty and grabs the sliothar. I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal… the dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick… Fox, to the 21, fires a shot – it goes to the left and wide… and the dog lost as well.”

“Anthony Lynch, the Cork corner back, will be the last person to let you down – his people are undertakers.”

“I see John O’Donnell dispensing water on the sideline. Tipperary, sponsored by a water company. Cork, sponsored by a tea company. I wonder will they meet later for afternoon tae.”

“Dublin have scored two points, one from the hand and one from the land.”

“Pat Fox out to the 40 and grabs the sliotar. I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal … the dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick … Fox, to the 21, fires a shot – it goes to the left and wide … and the dog lost as well.”

“I saw a few Sligo people at Mass in Gardiner Street this morning and the omens seem to be good for them. The priest was wearing the same colours as the Sligo jersey! 40 yards out on the Hogan Stand side of the field, Ciarán Whelan goes on a rampage … it’s a goal! So much for religion.”

“Colin Corkery on the 45 lets go with the right boot. It’s over the bar. This man shouldn’t be playing football. He’s made an almost Lazarus-like recovery from a heart condition. Lazarus was a great man but he couldn’t kick points like Colin Corkery.”

“1-5 to 0-8 … well, from Lapland to the Antarctic, that’s level scores in any man’s language.”

“Teddy McCarthy to Mick McCarthy, no relation, Mick McCarthy back to Teddy McCarthy, still no relation.”

“He grabs the sliotar, he’s on the 50. He’s on the 40. He’s on the 30… he’s on the ground”.

“Mike Houlihan for Limerick. Houlihan, the cattle jobber. He had his jaw broken by a kick from a bullock two months ago. He’s back now. ‘Twas some bullock that broke Mike Houlihan’s jaw!”

“Stephen Byrne with the puck out for Offaly. Stephen, one of 12. All but one are here today, the one that’s missing is Mary, she’s at home minding the house. And the ball is dropping i lár na bpáirce…”

“And here’s Sylvie Linnane, who drives a digger on a Monday and turns into one on a Sunday.”

“He’s not a big man, he’s not a small man, he’s what you might call a handy man.”

“In the first half they played with the wind. In the second half they played with the ball.”

“Teddy looks at the ball, the ball looks at Teddy…”

“Brian Dooher is down injured. And while he is, I’ll tell ye a little story, I was in Times Square in New York last week, and I was missing the championship back home. So I approached a newsstand and I said, “I suppose ye wouldn’t have The Kerryman, would you?” To which, the Egyptian behind the counter turned to me and he said, “Do you want the North Kerry edition, or the South Kerry edition?” He had both – so I bought both. And Dooher is back on his feet.”