“Legends Never Die, They Only Sleep On” – An Emotional Send-Off For Joe Flynn

Posted by


Joe Flynn Funeral 2

Joe’s dog Sparky is walked ahead of the hearse with Leeds United fans, Tralee Dynamos and the Kerry darts community. Photo by Dermot Crean

“Legends never die, they only sleep on.”

THE above words, from Fr Mossie Brick, were delivered towards the end of the Joe Flynn’s funeral service on Saturday morning.

Apt words on a day that Tralee and Kerry said farewell to a man who touched the lives of so many during his 58 years and, through going public with his positivity in the face of terminal illness, inspired so many.

Joe Flynn 2

Joe Flynn.

Joe, a Killorglin native, who made Tralee his home after meeting his wife Breda over 35 years ago, was buried in Rath Cemetery yesterday. But what a send-off he got.

Our Lady and St Brendan’s Church was packed on a day of heartbreak – interspersed with moments of laughter – as mourners heard stories about a man whose exploits in soccer, GAA, fishing, darts and so many more corners of his life endeared him to so many.

Fr Brick remembered how he met Joe 40 years ago. “He was 18, full of life and enthusiasm, 6 ft with long hair,” said Fr Mossie.

He recounted his experiences with Joe on the soccer field and later revealed how he unveiled his plans for marriage.

“One day, when walking off the field he asked if I would marry him [laughing from the congregation]. ‘Jaysus Joe’ says I, ‘I’ll have to think about that one’. Of course I said I’d be delighted to officiate,” said Fr Brick.

Fr Brick detailed what Joe went through fighting cancer and the ordeal he suffered in chemotherapy, the strength he received from his faith in Padre Pio, his love for his family and his vehement defiance and brave battle against cancer.

Later during the service, there were a number of symbols of Joe’s life brought to the altar.

A set of darts was brought up to reflect his passion for the sport. His talent for sign-writing – examples of which can be seen all over Kerry and far beyond – were signified by brushes brought to the altar.

A Tralee Dynamos shirt, a club which he served with great distinction, was brought up to show his service to the famous town institution.

His great love of his dog Sparky was recognised by a dog lead and a Padre Pio prayer book was laid at the altar to signify the inspiration the saint had on Joe.

A framed montage of photographs displayed his greatest love – his family and a fishing rod was brought up to acknowledge his love of the hobby.

Lastly, a Leeds United shirt was brought up, worn by his great friend and staunch Manchester United fan, Seamie Mahony, while, according to Joe’s wishes “we are Leeds, we are proud, standing singing loud, there is nothing you can do against the yellow, white and blue” was read out much to the laughter and applause of the mourners.

His daughter Joanne, whom a proud Joe walked down the aisle for her wedding in November, read out ‘The Broken Chain’ and she did him proud.

In fact, considering Joe had a lot to do with the planning of the service, he could be proud of pretty much everything that went on in the church on Saturday.

Lastly, Joe’s daughter Bernie spoke about her father’s life.

She described his upbringing in Killorglin where he was mother Kitty’s “blue-eyed boy who could do no wrong”. Joe called to his mother every week right up to the end.

Bernie described how Joe met Breda.

“They both had a very special connection, friendship and love for each other. They were always, always, together. She loved him with all of her heart. She really became the strongest woman I know.”

Bernie also told of how Joe and Breda faced heartbreak in their early years together burying four children, Catherine, Elizabeth, Angela and Timmy, but were eventually blessed with Bernie and Joanne.

“Dad always said his greatest achievement was becoming a father,” said Bernie who went on to describe Joe’s love for Joanne and herself and the pride he took in both their careers and the lives they led.

She described his skill at sign-writing, his illustrious soccer career with Callinafercy and Tralee Dynamos, his passion for darts which he excelled at, winning many competitions.

Bernie described Joe’s fight against cancer and his positive attitude and sense of humour throughout in the face of such suffering.


When they got the news that Joe’s illness was terminal, there was tears and anger but Bernie said Joe reflected on the life he had, the fact that he had a loving wife and family whom he was so proud of and “had the pleasure of seeing me and Joanne grow up and marry two great men.”

Bernie said Joe’s greatest joy was his granddaughter Caitlin. She described how Joe would jump in puddles with her – despite Bernie’s protestations.

When Joe became very ill and needed a walking stick when out and about, he made a miniature one for Caitlin, who developed a limp in sympathy with her grandad.

She told how Joe went public about his illness on TraleeToday.ie, in Kerry’s Eye and on the Ray Darcy show on RTE Radio 1. He wanted to highlight the issue of men’s health and his message of mind over matter in the face of terminal illness.

“Be aware of your health. If something doesn’t feel right get it checked out,” was his message Bernie said.

She told of how proud they were of him towards the end. “He fought very hard. We were so proud and totally inspired with his determination, his pride, his strength and his heart.”

When a priest came to him in Kerry General Hospital on Sunday and said he had put up a great rest and it was time to rest, Joe responded immediately; “Father, I’m very sorry, I can’t die on Sunday, Fr Brick is the only parish priest in Lixnaw and he’s completely flat out.”

On behalf of the family, Bernie thanked all the medical staff in Kerry General Hospital, Dr Brian Kelly, the Kerry Cork Health Link Bus, Breda, Bernie and Joanne’s employers and many, many more people who helped them through this difficult time as well as the clergy in St Brendan’s and Fr Mossie Brick.

Bernie finished with this;

“Finally, I say to the man who painted that gorgeous sign, that finished that impossible double, that scored that winning goal, that put a smile on faces, that always had a listening ear and a huge heart – til we meet again dad, I love you always.”

Applause rang out long and loud as Bernie made her way back to her family.

Tralee Dynamos, members of the Kerry darts community and Leeds United fans formed a guard of honour to lead Joe to his resting place in Rath Cemetery, while Joe’s dog loyal dog, Sparky, was walked ahead of the hearse. Sleep on legend.


  1. Well Joe you finely get to meet the great players of Leeds united and join your brothers and sister in heaven R.I.P joe

  2. Michael fisher says:

    Rip Joe flynn what a great man what more can I say.

  3. maurice mcsweeney says:

    R.I,P.JOE FLYNN ,When I get to the otherside there are a few People I would want to meet again and Joe Flynn would be on top of that list…What a Man.