Hundreds pay last respects to Limerick man who died from Legionnaire’s disease

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

HUNDREDS of people attended the funeral of Tom Keane at the weekend - less than a week after he died from Legionnaire’s disease.

HUNDREDS of people attended the funeral of Tom Keane at the weekend - less than a week after he died from Legionnaire’s disease.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church was packed as his neighbours in Janesboro, former colleagues from Limerick City Council and his family paid tribute to a man who was described as “a really kind, and gentle soul”.

It was the toughest Mass his eldest son, Fr Richard Keane, ever had to say, with the priest saying: “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be presiding at my father’s own funeral this year. This is a pain I thought I would not have to face for a long time.”

The 66-year-old died in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital last week after succumbing to Legionnaire’s disease, which is spread through water.

He contracted the disease while dining at the Marriott Hotel in Chicago, where he was taking a 40th wedding anniversary holiday with wife Olive. Eight people in total were taken ill following the outbreak, and two died.

Tributes poured in for the father-of-three with floral tributes from St Ita’s, and Tom’s former colleagues at the Rathbane Depot where he worked as a supervisor, after initially working as a council plumber.

Fr Keane said that his dad “adored” his wife Olive.“They were not just husband and wife, they were best friends. My father would never go out without my mother. They idolised each other. He would drive her into town, collect her, and when she came home, she would find the house hoovered, cleaned and polished. So I don’t know how we are going to make up for that,” he told the congregation.

It only became clear something was wrong three weeks after Tom returned home, since Legionnaire’s takes time to manifest itself.

“To die as a consequence of an anniversary trip to America is a bitter pill for us to try and swallow. I prayed to God, saying that while his true home is in Heaven, my Dad is only 66. I prayed [for God] to help him make a complete recovery, and to live to a fine old age. But it was not to be. My faith in God is not dimished one little bit,” Fr Keane added, praising the efforts of medical staff at the hospital.

Tom Keane is survived by his wife Olive, and children Fr. Richard, Lorraine and Shane.