RTÉ sports broadcaster, and “proud Moate man” Colm Murray was laid to rest in St Fintan’s cemetery in Sutton, Co Dublin yesterday, August 1, after losing his three-year battle with motor neurone disease on Tuesday.
Appropriately, the funeral homily in St Gabriel’s church in Dollymount was given by the former principal of Colm’s alma Mater, Fr Jimmy Murray.
A native of Church Street, Moate, Colm attended Carmelite College, and then UCG before taking up a teaching post in the Vocational School in Athlone in 1972.
He then went to teach in Tullamore - where he met his wife Anne - and then to Ballymun, where he saw the advertisement for a continuity announcer with RTÉ in 1978 that was to open up his next chapter.
In 1983 he became a full-time newscaster, before joining the sports section in 1989, just in time for the Italia ‘90 bandwagon which he described in an interview with a colleague as “the greatest sporting odyssey that this country ever embarked upon”.
Colm soon found his metíer on the racetracks of Ireland, and became as synonymous with RTÉ’s coverage of horse racing as Peter O’Sullevan was with the BBC.
“I’ve known him all my life, and he was a unique fellow who never forgot where he came from,” said local entertainer and politician, Tom Allen.
“He was just a gentleman, and a great guy. You couldn’t find a bad word to say about him. Every opportunity he could, he’d come back to Moate. He loved Moate, and he loved to talk about Moate. He was a great friend and a great guy that a fellow would have great admiration for. He’s at peace now after an awful battle,” said Mr Allen.
His colleague, RTÉ’s Midland correspondent, Ciaran Mullooly, remembered meeting Colm at the Galway Races four years ago when he complained about a limp he’d recently acquired.
“He thought it was just a pulled muscle. Neither of us were to know, the poor oul divil,” lamented the Cavan man.
“In RTÉ he was one of the great characters, full of wit and bonhomie, as he liked to say himself. He was a great colleague who never forgot his roots,” he added.
He recalled the “dozens and dozens” of charity events Colm officiated at, but recalled one in particular at which Colm chaired a Cheltenham discussion panel in Roscommon for the Lions Club there.
“There were 800 people there and he stayed on his feet for about six or seven hours. We raised €46,000 that night and he wouldn’t take a euro. There were people reminding him at 1am that maybe it was time for him to go home, but he wouldn’t hear of it,” said Ciaran.
“He had a great heart, and all that knew him hoped against hope he might be spared. It’s truly shocking,” he added.
Former TD, and Colm’s regular golf partner on the charity circuit, Paul McGrath, also voiced his sadness at the passing of his friend, but remembered the good days as well.
“Like myself he loved it, but like me he wasn’t very good! I think we played his last golf outing at a classic in Royal Dublin with Bruno [Coghlan] and Sean [McKeon]. I knew him for over 20 years, and we exchanged many tips - good and bad. He lived to pass on racing tips, and while a portion were successful, a larger portion weren’t,” he laughed.
“He was a proud Moate man, and a proud Westmeath man,” concluded Mr McGrath.