‘Every day is a gift, not a given’: Shane's family and friends gather at the memorial Picture: Dave Gaynor
A GROUP of Shane Lee’s friends wanted his name to be at Daly’s Cross forever and now it will be.
They unveiled a bench in memory of the 26-year-old who passed away almost exactly a year earlier. The inscription reads, ‘In memory of Shane Lee’. In September 2010, Shane, from Daly’s Cross in Castleconnell, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, Ewing's sarcoma.
His motto was ‘Every day is a gift, not a given’ and that is engraved in the granite paving around the bench.
A large group of friends and family attended the event, streamed on Facebook Live and watched in Canada, South America, Australia, New Zealand and England. It was organised by Shane’s school friends who knew him since they were boys. But perhaps the immense effect he had on a person he met just once encapsulates Shane best.
Horse trainer Enda Bolger attended the unveiling after meeting him months before he died.
“A couple of friends brought him over to Cheltenham. He was very ill at the time but it was something he wanted to do. He was the happiest man in Cheltenham to be there.
“I got an opportunity to meet him and he was such a nice guy. He left a big impression on me and I was happy to attend the opening of the bench. Shane may be gone but he won’t be forgotten,” said Enda.
Gearoid Hayes, one of the friends who erected the bench, described Shane as a “hero” and “legend”.
“He is our hero for the battle he put up for six years, his strength and courage. He is our legend for the great memories he left us that we all share, the smiles you put on all our faces and for making us laugh right up until your last breath,” said Gearoid.
After Shane’s death his friends had a meeting and began a plan.
“We decided the best place for this bench was across from the family business and home where he spent all his life. We wanted Shane Lee’s name to be at Daly’s Cross forever,” said Gearoid.
They contacted Cllr Joe Pond who quickly got permission from the council. As well as paying for the bench and paving they wanted to raise money for Milford, whose staff took such good care of Shane. On his birthday, December 30 they held a soccer tournament in Aisling Annacotty called the Bog Cup which they used to play when they were kids. A table quiz was organised in the parish hall on May 26.
“Both were massive successes. We’d like to thank the whole community that donated. Money was coming at us left, right and centre,” said Gearoid, who wished to thank McGills Garden Centre, Roadstone, Bridge Engineering and Shannonside Galvanizing.
Newport Memorials did six wonderful crests that celebrate Shane’s sporting passions – Ahane GAA, Lisnagry FC, Castleconnell Golf Society, UL Bohemians, a pheasant for his love of shooting and a horse as he enjoyed racing. A cheque for €5,000 was handed to Milford.
Most of all, Gearoid thanked the Lee family – Frank, Kay and Francis – and his partner Nora Humphreys for all their help and support.
”This project means a lot to us. Heroes and legends are rare but us boys can say that we have one, one that is an inspiration to us all, one that still makes us laugh when we speak about him and we will spread your words, Shane, all over the world, ‘Every day is a gift, not a given’.”