EVERYBODY had a story about Charlie McAlester.
The man had an impact at all levels of the GAA and far beyond, and following his funeral on Friday last the outpouring of emotion and genuine sentiment has been overwhelming.
Colm Nally of the Newtown Blues and Louth U21 Selector had an association with Charlie which went back 25 years and the Blues man recounted the stories which summed up his friend perfectly.
“I first knew Charlie nearly 25 years ago through a connection with O’Dwyers in Balbriggan.
“He had a wonderful phrase which he said to all young footballers -’make the net dance’, it’s a lovely saying which I’ve always remembered.”
Charlie was due to head down to the Feile with a Newtown Blues underage side during the summer and Colm knows there will be a great presence missing now.
“Charlie was all set to come down to the Feile with the Newtown Blues U14 team in the Summer, he was helping us out and he was really looking forward to it.
“That was Charlie, he was there at the beginning for the players and he was with them the whole way up.
“The GAA was his family.”
Colm recollected a wonderful story which displayed the humour and lightness of character which all who knew Charlie encountered at some stage.
“I remember a funny story. I was playing with the Newtown Blues in a Championship Final and Charlie had said to me that I would have to say a few words in Irish if we won.
“But I had little or no Irish at that stage, so Charlie said he’d write a few words for me.
“Charlie went off and prepared the speech for me. We ended up winning the championship and I went up and started the speech.
“The first line was – ‘Tiocaidh ar la” - I hadn’t a clue what I was saying,” smirked Colm.
“But I’ll always remember looking down at Charlie and he was in stitches laughing. I still get slagged off about that to this day.”
With a major milestone in the Newtown Blues history approaching, Nally feels a new page will need to be added for Charlie.
“The Newtown Blues are celebrating 125 years this year and we’ll have to revise that history after Charlie’s passing.”
Padraic O’Connor, Chairman Louth County Board, remembers the day Charlie informed him of his illness and the strength of character which Charlie displayed.
“Initially Charlie told me he had, under medical advice, been recommended to give up his role as kit man to the County teams a number of years ago but he assured us that he would continue to assist in every way possible.
Padraic had known Charlie for many years, but in his role has Chairman he became close to the Blues man.
“I had known Charlie for a long time but grew particularly close to him since assuming my current position as Cathaoirleach.”
He also mentioned Charlie’s continued optimism and positive outlook.
“During the past number of years we have all grown accustomed to seeing Charlie at least on a weekly basis and he was always in good form and ready to help out whenever asked.”
The loss to the whole of Louth GAA will be felt for a long time according to Padraic.
“His sense of humour and constant smile will be sadly missed by us all in Louth GAA.
“He was the real definition of a true volunteer who for the past 30 years has served his County with distinction and pride.
“Team managers, Mentors, Executive members and players have come and gone since then but the one constant throughout was Charlie.”
Current Louth Manager Peter Fitzpatrick expressed his sadness at Charlie’s passing.
“It is very sad to hear about his passing. He was in Navan last week to witness the win over Meath and that was the happiest I had seen him in a long time.
“He was jumping up and down clapping players on the back.”