Limerick rower Ailish Sheehan
UPWARDS of 100 people attended a memorial service in Limerick on Sunday for the Kildimo rower Ailish Sheehan, who tragically lost her life in Poland in September.
During the ceremony at St Michael’s Rowing Club, Ailish’s ashes were spread in one of the rivers in which she spent most of her time.
Six St Michael’s rowers, who had been teammates of Ailish’s at the ciclub, rowed out onto the Shannon to disperse the ashes.
An oar, with all of Ailish’s national wins and international appearances for rowing, was also presented to her parents John and Catherine by clubmates.
“For us, who still row at the club, it’s good to know that she’s there, when we go on the river,” said teammate Alice O’Sullivan.
“It’s comforting to us that she’s always going to be a part of the club.”
A group of musicians played African drums and guitar at the river’s edge.
Some of the ashes were also spread in the Thames at University of London rowing club in December. It was here that the 23-year-old had been studying for her Master’s, and rowing at the university club.
In April, the remaining ashes will be scattered at University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, where Ailish completed her undergraduate studies on a rowing scholarship.
“We can’t change what happened, so we were all very honoured to be asked to do it,” said Limerick teammate Alice.
“It was very much a privilege for John and Catherine to have asked us to do, as much as we would want to never have to do it.”
Inside St Michael's Rowing Club, friends and family met and shared fond memories, while looking at photos of her through the years, champion sports occasions, social events with friends, and school memories in Limerick.
Friends from Ailish’s school, Salesian Secondary College Pallaskenry and staff from St Clement's College - where her Dad taught - attended the ceremony,plus friends from other rowing clubs.
A peaceful ceremony took place on the slipway of the club, where many lit candle floats. The candles moved with the slow current and while a number of them went down the river others circled around swans in the area as the sky turned to dusk.
Her father John Sheehan delivered a speech, finishing with a James Joyce quote. A card by which to remember the rower was given to those in attendance, with the same quote printed inside.
“She lived and laughed and loved and left,” it read simply.