‘Hero’ County Limerick fireman to retire after 35 years of service

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

ONE of the longest serving firemen in County Limerick, Abbeyfeale’s Edmond O’Donoghue, is hanging up his hat after 35 years of service to the brigade.

ONE of the longest serving firemen in County Limerick, Abbeyfeale’s Edmond O’Donoghue, is hanging up his hat after 35 years of service to the brigade.

Mr O’Donoghue, 56, has spent the last 25 years as station officer in his native Abbeyfeale, a role he has juggled with his running of a local shop and the slightly more demanding task of raising a family of four children.

After decades of saving lives and serving the community, Mr O’Donoghue is to retire next Tuesday, a move which will free up time for him to concentrate on his golf.

He told the Limerick Leader that when he signed up for the brigade as a green 21-year-old, he had no idea what awaited him.

“I put an application in and did an interview, like any young fella would. But after two weeks in, I saw my first tragic road traffic collision, and I wasn’t long waking up. They were still very unusual at the time”, he said.

“It was only when the Celtic Tiger started roaring and everyone started getting a car, especially young people, that you started seeing more of them.”

Away from the fire service, Mr O’Donoghue owns and runs the Spar shop on Convent Street. Over the years he and his wife, Mary, have had to balance the round-the-clock demands of his time with the fire service with the challenges of raising their four children: sons Fergus, Cathal and Killian and daughter Danielle.

Mr O’Donoghue said that while he is fiercely proud of his time with the fire service, his only regret is the fact that he was forced to miss out on a few family milestones.

“I just want to thank my family. I’ve missed things over the years because of this; that’s my only regret. But they’ve always been there for me.”

His daughter Danielle said that the whole family are overwhelmingly proud of her father. “He’s our hero to be honest. The fire brigade was a big part of our life growing up. Even back through the years, we’ve had a great relationship with all the guys at the station. I think they’ll all be very, very sorry to see him go”.

Mr O’Donoghue said that as station officer, he was responsible for everything that could and would go wrong, but he said that he has been blessed with a smooth, lucky tenure. “I think I’ve two guardian angels, one on my right shoulder and one on my left!”

Mr O’Donoghue said that working for the fire service will never be an easy job, but he strongly recommended it to anyone interested in joining up. “It’s a tough job. But Limerick is one of the best fire services in the country”