Limerick mourns the passing of ‘truly unique character’ Ian Hayes

Ryan O’Rourke

Reporter:

Ryan O’Rourke

Ian Hayes in one of his trademark high-vis jackets Picture: John Loftus

Ian Hayes in one of his trademark high-vis jackets Picture: John Loftus

WITH THE passing of Ian Hayes, Limerick has lost one of its best-known characters.

Known for his bright jackets and gentle persona, Ian passed away on Saturday, January 26.

Large numbers of people took to Facebook to honour the well known Limerick man, with many sharing memories they had of “the friendly stranger in the high-vis jacket.”

A man of mystery, Ian mainly kept to himself and lived a humble life. Those who knew Ian said he was quiet and reserved, with one friend saying he played his cards close to his chest. So how did a man of such simple means touch so many of Limerick’s citizens?

The Boher native was often seen walking the Island Road, where he would sell copies of the Big Issue or a book of poems he had compiled himself. It was through this role that the city will remember Ian the most. 

“He was a gentle soul, who had his troubles. He was always positive. A truly unique character of Limerick,” said Daniel Butler, Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Limerick.

Ian was seemingly the personification of the old saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’. One friend, Sean Mc Inerney from Raheen, described how his first impressions of Ian quickly changed.

“When I first noticed Ian around Limerick I thought he looked intimidating, but once I spoke with him I realised that he was one of nature’s true gentleman,” said Sean.

Well known author, Helena Close became friends with Ian over time. She described how their friendship grew.

“I met him first at Island Road while waiting in my car. He sold a little booklet called Oasis. He wasn't a bit pushy or anything.

“Then we were on first name terms and he would call out my way every Sunday. He became a friend. He worked his way into the fabric of our lives,” said Helena.

In the weeks following Ian’s death, flowers appear on the Island road where he was so often seen. A clear sign that this character will be missed, but not forgotten.