Fate: Limerick couple die exactly 35 years apart

Askeaton woman Eileen Sheehan passes away peacefully after a long and happy life

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Fate: Limerick couple die exactly 35 years apart

Eileen Sheehan - she adopted the surname instead of her husband’s Sheahan - with John Joe and their granddaughter Lara in the late 1970s

THIRTY-five years to the day of her husband’s death, and with his mortuary card in hand, Askeaton woman Eileen Sheehan passed away peacefully after a long and happy life.

The 90-year-old mother of metropolitan councillor Michael Sheahan slipped away to be with the love of her life on the anniversary of his death; February 2.

“She had the card in her hand all day, and she kept it in her hand as she passed peacefully on. Dad died between 5pm and 6pm, and mam within the hour, at ten minutes past six on the same day,” Mr Sheahan said.

“She was a lady who never stopped loving her late husband through those long years without him, and who would regularly say to us ‘I miss your father’, ‘your grandfather’ or ‘John Joe’, depending on whose company she was in at the time,” he told mourners at her funeral on Sunday in St Mary’s Church in the west Limerick town.

The nonagenarian, a well-loved character on Church Street, Askeaton, passed away in the care of the staff of Adare and District Nursing Home, Croagh.

Born Eileen McMahon, she is missed by her daughter Marion O'Shaughnessy, sons Michael, Seán, Francis and Brendan, son-in-law Donie, daughters-in-law Patricia, Marian, Margaret and Maria, as well as grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Eileen had been active until around six months ago, when her health started to decline. In recent weeks, she had lost her sight and most of her mobility, and the day before her death, she developed pneumonia.

“She lived directly across from the Arena supermarket [now SuperValu] and the secondary school, so she observed everything from there. She was very popular. All her life she had reared children, she was a babysitter for all the children in the town and she loved kids,” said Mr Sheahan.

“She was 90 years of age, she had four great-grandchildren, the eldest of which is a university student, and the youngest of which is two months old, who she held in her arms, so she had a good life.”

Strong and vibrant of character, Michael recalled his mother’s jaunts to the supermarket across the road – her ‘community centre’ where she loved to meet people – and her adoption of the surname Sheehan, instead of her husband’s Sheahan, because she preferred the sound. It was only years later, when Michael came upon his father’s birth certificate, that he reverted to Sheahan.

“Mam’s light may have gone out in Church Street this weekend, but it has only moved to join the light of her husband John Joe in Heaven,” concluded Michael.