Sadly it’s with heavy hearts we are writing this piece. The news broke today that Wicklow GAA had tragically lost Pat Bracken, a man who has given more to the GAA in this County than we could ever hope to quantify. A man who we could only attempt to try and cover a small section of an endless amount of teams and clubs he has helped achieve success both as a player and as a coach and he will be mourned the length and breadth of this county and far beyond. A passionate Dublin fan which we tried our best not to hold against him, he was GAA to the very core and when we spoke with him after he coached the Aughrim U-14 team to a historic Feile win alongside his great friend Eugene “Suzie” O Brien, he was quick to point out that it was all about the lads when we mentioned the great esteem in which the young Aughrim players held him which was abundantly evident as they chanted his name on the Bus back to a heroes welcome in Aughrim.
That’s the measure of the man who put the interests of young players above all else and contributed so so much to improving Wicklow GAA and getting the best out of so many young players. He also firmly believed that schools were the key to GAA success in Wicklow and to quote him directly:
“The GAA needs to be engrained in schools, that’s the key. We just don’t have enough of it in Schools. When I was doing it, I was only a fraction of what was needed. Easy get the County Board to fund it. I never had any trouble of getting into schools they go mad for it. It’s just the fact that you were given too many and you just didn’t have the proper time. You were only scratching the surface. What would you give to have them scenes in Wexford Park last night in our County Grounds. Jaysus you would die a qer happy man”
To be honest this has been one of the harder posts that we have ever written as Pat had given so much and had so many more great days ahead and so much more to give, we owe it to him to make sure that his vision is acted upon and his memory lives on in a fitting way with schools GAA.
Pat was part of so many success stories, guiding Aughrim to an IFC title in 2014, a JBFC title with Knockananna in 2015 and the All Ireland Feile with Aughrim earlier this year. He also played and coached with Arklow Rocks and achieved huge success with Tinahely Ladies and Knockananna Camogie team. Theres many more and so many of you can maybe share your stories and memories of Pat as he was a once in a lifetime GAA man and he will be dearly dearly missed.
The lyrics of Christy Moore’s Bright Blue Rose perhaps do best justice to remember the hugely positive impact Pat had on the lives of so many young and not so young GAA players in County Wicklow and the success he helped them achieve with memories that will live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who were lucky enough to have Pat involved in their clubs and teams. The huge void left behind in Wicklow GAA will never be fully quantified and the huge contribution Pat made to all that is good in Wicklow GAA can not be given the justice it deserves in a few lines but his legacy will be engrained in the sporting fabric of this County for many generations to come and for us the simple lines below are the best way of trying to come close to understanding what his impact has had on Wicklow and it’s young sporting stars….
One bright blue rose outlives all those Two thousand years, and still it goes To ponder his death and his life eternally
We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Pats family, friends and all who knew him at this very sad time. We urge you all to talk to someone if you are ever feeling down, there’s always someone to listen and there is nothing that can’t be solved. Life will have ups and downs and there will always be a friend to navigate the tough times and always remember It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. We will dearly miss Pat and we will do our absolute upmost to make sure his memory and legacy will live on in Wicklow GAA.