ONE of the longest serving firemen in County Limerick, Abbeyfealeâ€™s Edmond Oâ€™Donoghue, is hanging up his hat after 35 years of service to the brigade.
Mr Oâ€™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 Oâ€™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.
â€œI 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 wasnâ€™t long waking up. They were still very unusual at the timeâ€, he said.
â€œIt was only when the Celtic Tiger started roaring and everyone started getting a car, especially young people, that you started seeing more of them.â€
Away from the fire service, Mr Oâ€™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 Oâ€™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.
â€œI just want to thank my family. Iâ€™ve missed things over the years because of this; thatâ€™s my only regret. But theyâ€™ve always been there for me.â€
His daughter Danielle said that the whole family are overwhelmingly proud of her father. â€œHeâ€™s our hero to be honest. The fire brigade was a big part of our life growing up. Even back through the years, weâ€™ve had a great relationship with all the guys at the station. I think theyâ€™ll all be very, very sorry to see him goâ€.
Mr Oâ€™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. â€œI think Iâ€™ve two guardian angels, one on my right shoulder and one on my left!â€
Mr Oâ€™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. â€œItâ€™s a tough job. But Limerick is one of the best fire services in the countryâ€