Tributes flood in for Irish community ‘champion’ Paddy Cowan’

Tributes have come from the fields of politics, entertainment, sport and the community in reaction to the news of the passing of our founder and publisher, Paddy Cowan who died last Tuesday 6 October.

Those who paid tribute to Paddy ranged from the President of Ireland to people from the community. This shows how widely known and well liked Paddy was. His good friend Andrew Carey calls him ‘a man of the people’. Declan Nerney also refers to this quality when she says: “He knew how to converse with a lay man or the Pope for that matter.”

Many mention his great sense of community and his community work which was signified in his hosting of The Irish World Awards to honour achievements in all fields. The awards are counted as one of his greatest achievements by no small number of people paying tribute to him.

Father Brian D’Arcy explains how much an award from award means: “I was lucky enough to get an award from Paddy in the recent past and it was as good as an award from the Queen, to get an award from Paddy because you knew that he meant it and he was genuine.

Never shy to do his bit for community or good causes, former owner of the Galtymore Mike Byrne says, ‘If anyone ever deserved an Irish World Award it was Paddy himself’.

Another thing that comes up again and again is his sense of ‘craic’ and his sense of humour that anyone who knew him knows was a big part of his character.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins lead the tributes to and Irish community “champion”.

“I was greatly saddened by the news of the death of Paddy Cowan, entrepreneur, publisher of The Irish World, and tireless champion of the Irish community in Britain,” he wrote.

“Sabina and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Sadie, his family, and all those whose lives he touched.”

Adrian O’Neill, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK hailed Paddy’s “energy and exuberance.”

He wrote: “All of us at the Embassy of Ireland are very sad to hear of the death of Paddy Cowan. He was a man of immense energy and exuberance who was at the heart of the Irish community in Britain for many years. Our sincere sympathy to his wife Sadie, family, friends and all The Irish World. Ar dheis Dè.”

Dan Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to the US wrote from Washington, wrote: “Greta and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Paddy Cowan. We got to know him well during our time in London. He was a pillar of the Irish community in Britain and always great company. We send our condolences to his wife, Sadie, and the whole Cowan family.”

Daniel O’Donnell, Margo O’Donnell, Declan Nerney and Nathan Carter were among the those paying tribute to Paddy Cowan for the help they received in launching their careers.

Country singer Margo O’Donnell said: “Paddy will be sorely, sorely missed. He brought Irish music to a new level when he started the paper. He was always there to help no matter what and many times I would have rang Paddy for a bit of advice on things I was doing. He was always there to listen and to help and I’m glad that I knew him in my lifetime. He helped all the Irish artists a great deal, me especially. I’ll miss him and I want to thank him for all the help that he gave me in my career. God rest his soul.”

Her brother Daniel O’Donnell also paid tribute.

“He was always very supportive of all of us in the music industry,” Daniel posted on his Facebook page.

“He was a huge figure in the Irish community in the UK. My deepest sympathy to his wife Sadie and all his family. May he Rest In Peace.”

Nathan pictured at the 2017 Irish World awards with Irish World publisher Paddy Cowan.

Star of the country scene Nathan Carter said Paddy played a big part in the launch of his career: “I was very sad to hear the news. Paddy got me one of my first gigs. I used to play The Galty whenever Big Tom was there and Paddy got me that gig and that led to there being dances in the Crown with acts like Brendan Shine and Jimmy Buckley. And I won a newcomer award with the Irish World when I was about 17. He was very good to me at the start of my career and myself and the band did the Irish World awards two or three years back now. He was a good man and very helpful when I was starting out. I wasn’t chatting to him unfortunately the last two months. He normally would have rang every other month or so just to catch up and see what was going on so I wasn’t chatting to him recently which was a regret. I know he kept a keen eye on the music scene. He really was good to musicians like myself. He really was.”

Country singer Declan Nerney said: “I would have known Paddy a long, long time. He was a great man for our particular scene. The paper he set up took to the entertainment scene, the visiting Irish bands and the message they brought bringing that little piece of home to people that went off to England working. Those were the things they were able to call upon when they were away from home.

“He set up the Irish World awards and it became an international event. It wasn’t just a parochial paper either. He brought it to a greater level.

“He was a champion of Ireland getting another step up the ladder. He was definitely very outlooking and a great man for the young people coming over. He really was an exponent of all good things Irish.

“I have to say that he was a very extraordinary ordinary man. He knew how to converse with a lay man or the Pope for that matter. He was able to get his message across and converse with them all.

“He had a serious sense of humour. He conducted his business through humour which is a grear attibute to anybody who is able to do that.

“Condolences to his family and his many, many friends.”

Paddy with his wife Sadie and his daughters Mary and Tara.

Father Brian D’Arcy said: “I was very shocked to hear about Paddy’s death. I have known him for more years than I care to admit through all sorts of things. He used to call on us in Enniskillen every now and again when he came up from Longford. We talked about football as much as we talked about music. We talked about the world of politics as much as we talked about religion. Paddy was one of those people that you could talk to about anything. He had an informed opinion of it all.

“And behind it all he was an Irish man. He knew that there were two ways of being an Irishman: You could be an Irish man in your corner looking out at the world or you could be an Irish man who took your place in the world and he was one of those. He was proud to be an Irish man.

“He was very successful in any walk of life that he went into. He proved to be a great success and a great ambassador for Ireland. I was lucky enough to get an award from Paddy in the recent past and it was as good as an award from the Queen, to get an award from Paddy because you knew that he meant it and he was genuine.

“I enjoyed the night enormously. On that night you could actually see what a successful man Paddy was in every sense of the word. He was a successful family man. He was successful in business. He was a successful Irishman and he wanted to make sure that the successes of Irish people were justly recorded in a proper and fitting way.

“He was a huge, huge influence on so many people in the world of sport entertainment and journalism. Paddy was a man who looked for success on the Irish scene, spotted it, encouraged it and rewarded it. He’ll be sadly missed.”

Trad duo Foster and Allen said: “We had great time for Paddy. We would have known Paddy for years.
“Down through the years, Paddy was always very, very good to us with the newspaper. He always invited us over for the awards and stuff like that. Any time we ever did a tour of the UK, it was always a cert if we sent something on to Paddy it would be printed and published. He looked after all the Irish acts. He was always very good to us.

“If we were ever anywhere that he was, there would always be a bit of craic.

“Deepest sympathy to his family. He was a major help to Irish artists in the UK.”

Country music legend Mick Flavin said: “Paddy was a dear friend to me and gave me a lot of help in my earlier years on the road. May his gentle soul Rest in Peace.”

Irish country favourite Mary Rose wrote: “Such very sad news. Paddy was a great supporter of the Irish community in London and he worked so hard to keep Irish music alive.”

Spotlight TV’s Phil Mack wrote: “Paddy was a true giant of a man, once met. never forgotten – in a good way,” while Spotlight TV presenter Shauna McStravock posted: “Such a wonderful person and supported all the artists both in Ireland and the UK.”

Popular London Irish singer Ronan McManus wrote: “He was always so supportive of me, my brothers and the BibleCodes along with all our personal projects away from the band.

“He will he hugely missed by all in the Irish community in the UK.”

Andy Nolan of The BibleCode Sundays said: “Really sad to hear this news. Paddy and The Irish World have always been so supportive of our band as well as my film and book projects down through the years.

“I remember the night in The Galtymore in Cricklewood around 2007 when he, along with Linda Martin, presented us with the Best Band On The Irish Circuit award. He, along with David Hennessy, also gave my son Ryan his first opportunity to write in a national newspaper at the age of fourteen. He was a great Longford man and a great Irishman. RIP Paddy.”

Former proprietor of the famous dance hall The Galtymore Mike Byrne said: “It was some 33 years ago I first had the pleasure of meeting Paddy Cowan. He had just launched The Irish World Newspaper which became “The paper for the Irish in Britain”.

“Paddy was a man of huge character who established himself as an ambassador to promote and report all aspects of Irish news, entertainment, sports, local community, county Association events and Irish culture within his newspaper.

“We became great friends with our foray into golf, often meeting up on a Sunday at Lee Valley Golf Course, at which we found that we were not the most natural strikers of the ball, which made for some amazingly bad scorecards.

“To Paddy, it was not to be taken too seriously, and treated it all as a bit of fun. He was correct. After four hours of banter, jokes and laughs, I came away not worrying over the trees I hit, bunkers I ended up in, topped balls, missed putts etc, but from having a day of great joy in the company of my friend Paddy.

“Our exploits ventured into the ownership of racehorses together. It was something we both thoroughly enjoyed for many years, and win, lose or draw Paddy always made them special days to cherish. His knowledge of the sport garnered from his brother Tommy and brother-in-law Sean, showed Paddy’s great skill in some shrewd purchases of some decent racehorses that would give us many a good day out that will be long remembered.

“Under Paddy’s leadership The Irish World went from strength to strength and he then introduced what would become one of the most important dates of the entertainment calendar in the UK, The Irish World Awards.

“Paddy chose to host these prestigious awards at The Galtymore, and every year it became the hottest ticket in town. Always a complete sell-out long before the night, thus proving his standing in the community, Paddy and his team would assemble and acknowledge some of the biggest names in the world of sport, stage and screen, music, politics but also without fail people in Irish communities across the UK who selflessly went about their lives helping others less fortunate than most.

“On the charitable side, Paddy’s incredible ability to rally people together to raise assistance for those in need was well recognised and will always be greatly applauded. If anyone ever deserved an Irish World Award it was Paddy himself.

“Whenever Paddy came to the Galty for a meeting during the day he would always be late. He would have arrived at the venue on time, but by the time he had stopped to chat to all the staff he came across on the way to my office, enquiring where were they from, finding out how they and their families were, and in general just making sure they were okay. I would still be waiting for him an hour later.

“This is how Paddy was, his ability to make friends of everyone he met and introduce fiends to others. He always had the very best intentions.

“It is with great sadness that I pass on my sincere condolences to his wife Sadie, daughters Mary and Tara, and sons-in-law Paddy and Frank.

“May he Rest in Peace.”

Andrew Carey, a former publican who was very well known in London, said: “I was so sad to hear of the passing of my good friend Paddy. Once again we are grieving a great Irishman. Paddy was well known from the Presidents of Ireland to the man on the street. You had to be in his company to understand the great character he was. I was proud to call him my friend.

“Paddy did more for the Irish community in England than anyone. Paddy was a man of the people.

“Paddy and his paper were famous for keeping the expats informed of what was happening in their homeland from county news to sport.

“One of his great achievements was the annual Irish World awards which I have been very proud to receive one of myself. Paddy and the paper were very kind to me when I was in England for all my charity work and the LVA.

“Occasionally Paddy stopped at the Haverstock on his way to the office and would ask my wife Collette to make him a low calorie full breakfast and say, ‘Don’t tell Sadie’.

“Our thoughts are with Sadie, the family and The Irish World.”

Paddy worked hard to help Irish causes all over Britain – and Ireland – throughout his life. Leaders of Irish community services paid tribute to Paddy’s dedication through the Irish World and generous personal contributions.

Jerry Kivlehan of the UK-based Irish mental health charity iCap, said “I am deeply saddened to hear of Paddy death. He was an outstanding person who supported, celebrated and informed our community over the years through The Irish World, Irish World Awards and various charitable events. Solas De ar a anam cinealta.”

Nora Mulready of the Irish Elders Network wrote: “He has been so good to us over the years and we were always very grateful for the support for the older Irish in London. Thank you and the Irish World for all the support you give to us.”

The Irish Cultural Centre Manchester posted: “Saddened…the Irish community in Britain has lost a stalwart member.”

Anne McLoone of King’s College Hospital and Dulwich Harps wrote: “So sorry to hear this sad news, he was a wonderful character, always willing to help in any way he could.”

The London Irish Centre hailed “a towering figure in London’s Irish community for decades. Paddy was a LIC trustee here until 2018, for which we are deeply grateful.”

Rosemary Adaser, founder of MixedRace Irish, wrote: “Such a wonderful man who always looked outside his ‘bubble’. I am going to miss this honesty and critical openness from this Gent. Rest in Peace, Paddy. You have fulfilled your life mission.”

St Kentigern’s Club in Manchester hailed Paddy’s “generosity” while the Labour Party Irish Society wrote: “he brought joy to all who knew him.”

The Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith posted: “Paddy was a warm hearted man, always full of energy and enthusiasm. He will be greatly missed by our community.”

Institute of Irish Studies based in Liverpool University wrote: “His passing is a great loss to the Irish community in Britain.”

Crawley Irish Festival organiser John Nolan wrote: “Paddy was one of a kind. A great friend to the Irish in Britain and rarely missed the festival in Crawley and always looked forward to visiting and engaging with our festival goers on such topics as GAA, horseracing, Irish music and politics. He was a fund of banter and craic and had great time for everybody and everything. He’ll be sadly missed.”

Ben Cahill, chair of charity Anerley Across said: “It was a great privilege to have known Paddy, such a kind and generous gentleman. He will be sadly missed by us all.”

Jacqueline O’Donovan of O’Donovan Waste Disposal wrote: “He was a wonderful character and a great supporter of the Irish community in London and the UK.”

Sean Fitzpatrick of VGC Group wrote: “Thoughts and prayers are with Sadie and the Cowan family at this sad time.”

The London Irish Construction Network (TLICN) wrote: “He was a huge character and will be greatly missed by many in the London Irish community. All at TLICN wish to pass our thoughts, prayers and sympathies.”

Powerday and London Irish Rugby Club owner Mick Crossan led the tributes in the UK-Irish business world, calling Paddy “a true Irish gentlman.”

He posted on Powerday’s website and social media: “Paddy was indeed a great friend of the Crossan Family and a great advocate of Powerday.

“Paddy was a great character with a huge heart and full of compassion; a true Irish Gentleman.

“He will be greatly missed by the Crossan Family and all at Powerday.”

He added: “Paddy was a tremendous family friend who supported and helped London Irish massively over the years.

“The Irish World and London Irish have always had a very close relationship and that is mainly down to Paddy. I have known him for over 50 years and know that he will be missed by so many people.”

Many more tributes came from the world of sport as Paddy was involved with London GAA for many years as a player, manager and board member. In more recent times he was a sponsor through The Irish World. The Irish World was official media partner to London for many years.

Dulwich Harps chairman Tom Denning, who knew Paddy for more than 30 years, described him as the chairman “London GAA never had”.

“Paddy was a true Gael and a true gentleman; he was straight as a die and always up front,” said Tom.

“What always impressed me about Paddy was that after joining the club, he stuck with the club.

“Only a few weeks ago Paddy said to me ‘wouldn’t it be lovely if Dulwich won intermediate this year, and got up to senior – wouldn’t that be great?’ That would have made Paddy’s day.”

He added: “The Dulwich Harps boys and girls have been ringing me heartbroken since hearing the news, as I am.

“I’ve had loads of people ringing me from Ireland; including former players of the club and even the Cavan manager, Michael Graham.

“Paddy was an Irishman through and through, and nothing mattered more to him than Irish people.”

Maurice Carr, who played under Paddy for London, said: “Paddy was a lovely fella, great fun, vivacious and full of life. There was never a dull moment.

“He’d get you up for a game and get you to believe you were every bit as good as some of the teams coming over from Ireland.

“Paddy was an incredible man; great fun to be around and a great character. I can’t eulogize enough about him.

“You might not speak to Paddy for a few years, but as soon as you did you were best buddies again. That’s the type of person he was – he made you feel like you were his best friend. And he always had a story to tell.

“Even though I hadn’t seen him in a long time, I’ve lost a dear friend.”

Stevie McLoughlin said: “Paddy was a GAA man right up until the end – he was a great Gael.

“I enjoyed playing under Paddy for London juniors, and I have fond memories of coming up against him on the pitch.”

He added: “He was a proud Irishman and a great man for the Irish community in London.”

Paying tribute, RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey said he was “saddened” to hear of Paddy’s passing, describing him as “wonderful man”.

“He was a massive supporter to Irish Culture, Music and Sport. He was very supportive of me, and I, and many others, will miss him,” said Marty.

Tir Chonail Gaels’ manager Paul Coggins, who played under Paddy for London juniors, said he had “great vision and ambition”.

The club said: “He knew as a manager how to get the best out of players and wanted the best for players and had a simple approach which got results.”

Dulwich Harps described him as an “avid supporter of the GAA” and said he would be “sadly missed”.

London Ladies said he was a “true gentleman” and a “great ambassador” for the Irish community in London.

“Paddy sponsored the London Ladies County team and lead the way with tremendous support and coverage given to the ladies in helping to raise the profile to which we are extremely grateful,” they said in a statement.

London GAA said that while he served London GAA as a “player, manager and officer for club and county”, no one contributed more to “promoting our games” through his publication, the Irish World, and that he was a “true Gael” who will be “sorely missed”.

Jerome O’Shea, St Kiernan’s GFC, said: “On behalf of St Kiernans’ Gaelic Football Club, we would like to express our condolences to Sadie, Mary, Tara and their families on the death of Paddy. Paddy was a great help to our club over the years and he will be greatly missed.”

John Lacey, London County Board Chairperson, said: “On behalf of London GAA, and myself personally, we are saddened to hear of the passing of Paddy Cowan. As a proud Longford man, he served within London GAAover many years as a player, manager and club officer, and the London County Board and an administrator and provincial council delegate. As founder of the Irish World newspaper his dedication to our association can be seen from the wide coverage his paper has given to our games, and I am sure his legacy will continue. As well as his involvementin the GAA, Paddy worked with many organisations in Britain who will also mourn his passing. Our deepest condolences to his wife Sadie, and daughters Tara and Mary. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

More tributes in this week’s Irish World newspaper.

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