THE late PJ Richardson held everyone he met in the palm of his hand.
Sadly he only had one hand after he lost an arm in a farm accident involving the driveshaft of a tractor aged 10. PJ never let it affect him but it may have contributed to his untimely death last week.
When he didn’t return home on Tuesday night gardai issued an appeal on Wednesday. Hundreds helped to search the countryside.
He was found in very marshy ground less than a mile from his home in Lacka. A keen walker it is understood that a change in medication may have left PJ disorientated while on his way home. That Tuesday night was one of the coldest in months.
Gardai are treating his death as a tragic accident.
Huge crowds attended his removal on Saturday night and funeral Mass on Sunday morning in Doon.
Parish priest, Fr Tony Ryan, said when the news broke there was “incredible sadness”.
“Tears were shed by so many people within and outside our community. As a result of the farm accident many a young boy at that age would probably be so devastated at such a loss they would struggle to cope, would have a negative outlook on life and would look constantly for sympathy. These words did not exist in PJ’s vocabulary. He was so positive, so involved in the community,” said Fr Ryan.
PJ must be the only man ever to win county hurling medals with only one arm. He won county U14, minor and U21 championships with Doon.
Denis Kennedy, a selector on the 1982 U21 winning team, said PJ was picked completely on merit.
“He played left corner forward. He was incredibly tough. He was very well known throughout the county because everybody was fascinated by him and how he could do it.
“He had this unique ability of putting the hurley under his arm as the sliothar arrived, catching it as it came through the air. He then threw the sliothar up in the air and hit it tennis style.
“He was real tough, he got no favours from selectors or opponents and he got no soft frees from referees. He was fairly physical himself. I always remember afterwards when he shook your hand he would crush you, his hand was so strong,” said Denis.
Off the pitch, he was as gentle as he was tough on it. Highly intelligent, the former CBS Primary School and St Fintan’s CBS student, attended Trinity College. He was part of a Doon All-Ireland winning Scor question time team. Unlike some gifted people, PJ also had the common touch and was very popular in Limerick County Council where he worked for many years.
“He was a friend to everyone and welcome in every house because he would be the life and soul. If you were in a bad humour when he came he would put you in good humour. He had a excellent sense of humour, great conversationalist, and tremendous storyteller. Very well read, he could speak on any subject,” said Denis. PJ had a trick of taking a match out of the box and lighting his cigarette, all with his one hand, that was worthy of a magician. A keen golfer he even got a hole in one at Nenagh Golf Club.
The eldest of 11, one of his brothers, Johnny, paid a moving tribute at the end of PJ’s funeral Mass.
He recalled the time the Richardsons were on Where in the World.
“We were like extras in a film. You couldn’t get near the buzzer, he was deadly,” said Johnny.
He wished to thank the “whole local community” for their help in the search and for their support through this tough time.
“They’ve been incredible all the way through it. They are great people, they really are. We couldn’t thank them enough,” said Johnny.