There was widespread sadness as the news spread of the unexpected passing of P.J. Qualter of Lackagh.
Paddy Joe as he was popularly known had a distinguished hurling career with both Turloughmore and Galway. P.J. was also a hugely popular hurling coach and coached many hurlers in particular in weaker counties over many years.
He attended St. Joseph’s “The Bish” secondary school in Galway with his neighbour and class colleague Joe McTighe, where their hurling skills first came to prominence and the duo would later go on to capture over twenty county senior titles between them.
Paddy Joe played an integral part in the Turloughmore six in a row success in the 1960s and was frequently bro8ught back from England for important games while still a student.
He was a skilful and stylish hurler with tremendous vision and his goal scoring exploits were renowned. P.J. played Minor hurling with Galway in 1959 and 1960 and won a Co Minor football championship with St. Michael’s. He was part of the trailblazing Galway team that won the National Hurling League in 1975, beating Tipperary 4-9 to 4-6 in the final and played at full forward in both the league final and the All Ireland Final of 1975. Galway were dereated by Kilkenny in that All Ireland final when he was marked by Nicky Orr, but P.J. scored a goal in both finals at the age of 33. P.J. also played with teams in London, New York and San Francisco and was frequently the star player.
When P.J. finally retired from playing after twenty years’ service to Turloughmore senior team he went on to become an accomplished coach.
He was coaching officer with Connacht Council for years and was hugely recognised as one of the leading coaches in the country and served on several national coaching committees.
He coached Sarsfields to their historic first Co Senior championship title of 1980, while in 1984 he coached the Galway senior team. He was heavily involved in the Turloughmore club, coaching many teams while also being instrumental in setting up both the Club’s Boad na nOg and the weekly Turloughmore card game, which is still going strong today.
A teacher in Clara and then at the Mountbellew Vocational School, P.J. Qualter was a true hurling artist and a man who had gained tremendous respect throughout the country. Hurlers from all over travelled to pay their respects at his funeral where Sarsfields and Turloughmore clubs and former colleagues on Galway hurling teams led the guard of honour.
P.J. and his wife Betty and the family suffered tremendous heartbreak when they lost their only daughter Deirdre at the tender age of twenty four to cancer and it was to have a life changing effect on the Qualter family. P.J. was also predeceased by his wife Betty three years ago, but continued to live life to the full in recent years despite failing health.
The remains were removed from Our Lady’s Chapel, Lackagh to the Church of our Lady of Knock, Lackagh. Following his concelebrated funeral Mass where chief celebrant Fr. John O’Gorman P.P. Lackagh was joined by Most Rev Dr. Fintan Monahan, Biship of Killiloe, Fr. Johnny Dunleavy SMA, Fr. Willie Cummins PP Ennistymon and Fr. Bernard Shaughnessy CC Coolarne, burial took place in Lackagh Cemetery.
P.J. is survived by his sons Paul, Seamus and Padraig, daughters in law Hilary and Sandra, grandchildren Rachel, Daniel, Sarah, Louise and David, sisters Kitty and Julia, brother Martin, nieces, nephews, relatives, neighbours and many friends.