ON February 25 the sad news came in that the much respected, award-winning journalist Paddy Murray had died.
The 68-year-old had passed away on the morning of Thursday, February 24, at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.
According to a report in The Irish Times, in 1998 he was diagnosed with Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare type of cancer.
He also had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and it was this inflammatory lung disease that formed the basis of many of his columns in The Irish Times.
More recently many of these features were written “in relation to Covid-19 and the experience, fears and hopes of those living with health difficulties. He was an important, vocal voice for many immuno-compromised people, and their families, during the pandemic”, the newspaper confirmed.
Mr Murray, who had written for many other Irish newspapers over the years, never wallowed in self-pity but always kept active and positive and was always working on some new cause or issue that concerned him.
Just after Christmas 2021 one of his last pieces was about the courage and vision of Frank Duff, who formed the Legion of Mary 100 years ago and also established the Regine Coeli home for unmarried mothers.
Unusually for the period of time in Ireland, at this home the young pregnant women were allowed to have their babies and keep them.
One of those babies, who was brought up by his mother in the home, was the writer Gordon Lewis, who wrote a best-selling book Secret Child about his experiences there and how they were made possible by Mr Duff.
Mr Murray referred to Mr Lewis in his article and to his recent, generous offer to have a commemorative plaque erected at the home to honour Mr Duff’s legacy.
Supportive of Mr Lewis’ suggestion, Mr Murray could not understand why the Legion of Mary was not embracing Mr Duff’s offer.
In view of this he was planning another journalistic piece on the subject and had planned to meet Mr Lewis for the first time in Dublin on Tuesday, March 2 when he was due to fly in from Rio De Janerio for a press reception and dinner.
The pair had become friends over time, through phone calls talking about the idea of the plaque and how important it was to celebrate the memory of MR Duff, who had helped countless people through his Christian charity.
Indeed, Mr Murray, a committed Christian himself, was going to champion the cause and was about to break something of a scoop.
He was preparing to announce that Mr Lewis was going to make a film on Frank Duff’s life and that the he hoped that the Legion of Mary would gave permission to film it at the original location at Regine Ceoli and perhaps change their obdurate decision in refusing the plaque.
Sadly, Mr Lewis and Mr Murray never actually got to meet, but Mr Lewis is still due to announce the film.
And when he does, in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, he will doubtless raise a glass to the memory of two very different but dedicated Irishmen.