FOUR weeks ago this Thursday John O’Donoghue returned to his home in Doon just like any other afternoon.
He was confronted by intruders, suffered a heart attack and died aged just 62. It feels like yesterday for his beloved family, friends and the whole parish.
Fr Tony Ryan, parish priest, said there is “considerable anxiety and fear amongst our elderly following John’s death”.
“A public meeting will be held in the community centre on Tuesday, September 29 at 8pm to discuss how best to ensure our elderly are safe and protected.
“After the recent spate of break-ins, thefts and robberies there is much concern, fear and nervousness experienced by many people so we must do all we can and as best we can to ensure their safety.
“Public representatives and members of the gardai are also invited to attend,” said Fr Ryan, who encourages a big attendance.
The Saturday after the gathering in the community centre the month’s mind Mass of Mr O’Donoghue takes place at 10am on October 3 in the Convent chapel.
The meeting is being organised by Doon Community Council. Paul Ryan, chairman, said Community Alert is up and running but it needs to be updated. The aim is to sow the seeds for a text alert system and emergency response buttons for the elderly.
“We need to get more people involved. There is a lot of fear out there - I even got a phone call last night - it needs to be brought down. All are welcome to come along, express their views and tell us what way they would like to go forward,” said Paul.
He thinks the personal alarm systems that can be hung around the neck would be of great benefit to some elderly men and women.
“When the button is pressed it contacts the emergency services and three or four different people who can check on you and see what is wrong. It is not necessarily just for burglaries, it could be a fall,” explained Paul.
The late John O’Donoghue will be at the forefront of everybody’s minds in the community centre.
Tom Hayes was born across the road from him in Toomaline and has very fond memories of him.
“John was a man we looked up to. He worked on the buildings and we used to play soccer every evening. He was involved with Bridge Rovers soccer club and had all these fancy moves.
“All the Hayes, Mahers and O’Donoghues - all the neighbours - used to play soccer in Carnahalla school grounds every night. John was a quiet man but fierce talented,” said Tom.
John was born in a cottage but over the years he extended it and made it into a two-storey house.
“He did the blocks, roof, plastering, plumbing and wiring - he did it all himself. He could do anything. He even designed a water turbine from a stream beside the house that generated enough electricity to work one socket. Doon GAA club have a draw every Monday night and it was John that made the drum for it. He was a gifted man,” said Tom.
When John’s house got flooded last year neighbours went in and helped him get it sorted out.
“He was very highly thought of,” said Tom.
Brian Berkery lived right beside John’s house for over 20 years.
“He was the most inoffensive person you could ever meet. The whole road is affected. He was only a young man.
“I guarantee you, you would not put 40 or 50 years of age on him. He was the freshest man you would ever see. I was shocked when I heard how old he was,” said Brian.
Owning a garage in the village, Brian meets locals every day and rural crime is the main topic of discussion.
“Everybody has a loaded gun in the house and people don’t keep money in the house anymore,” said Brian.