The late Billy King | Picture: Michael Cowhey
ALTHOUGH given the sad news of his terminal diagnosis, Limerick's Piano man kept entertaining others until days before he left this world.
William King died aged just 62, following a battle with cancer.
He was known for his love of music, and would often post videos of himself performing songs, often acapella, on the social networking site Facebook.
Billy, as he was better known, had been living in Monabraher Road, Ballynanty before moving to the Ennis Road care facility at the former Two Mile Inn, then latterly Milford Hospice, where he spent his final days.
Linda Ledger, who manages St Munchin’s Community Centre, where he would visit quite often, said: “He was very independent and was always singing. You’d see all the videos he posted on Facebook. His attitude was lovely. He used to come to our Christmas parties and sing a few songs for us.”
She said when Billy sang it really did come from the heart, drawing on real life experiences like his own mother's passing, which occurred only last year.
Sinn Fein’s northside councillor John Costelloe worked alongside Billy at the Limerick Civic Trust.
“He had a unique voice. He was a very caring man. I worked for him for a number of years at the Limerick Civic Trust, and he was very well known in Ballynanty and across the northside,” Cllr Costelloe said.
“He had a lovely way about him and was a nice character. He maintained our gardens across the northside. I’d say we’ll never see the likes of him again,” he added.
Earlier this year, when he was given six months to live, Billy told the Limerick Leader of his terminal diagnosis.
He said he refused chemotherapy, as the doctors said it would have only extended his life for a small period of time.
“When you have to go, you have to go,” he said, “We’re only here for a short while – a good time, not a long time. And I always say to people, enjoy the time you have.”
“I’m going to keep going, I’m going to make the most of the time I have left,” he added.
Asked what keeps him going, he added: “Memories of the good days. The lads at the Family Resource Centre, I’d go there every Thursday, they’d collect me. They’d take me on an old trip now and again. I like going to Lahinch as I have great memories there from my childhood.”
Although Billy said he had “cried a lot” since being given the diagnosis, he still took time out to sing for people, to make them happy, including the care home's nurses.
One video he placed on Facebook received 1,000 views.
In the care home, he was grateful for the kindness he received – with his final days far less stressful than when he lived in Ballynanty when his home was targetted by vandals.
“I’m losing weight, but I’m eating like a horse,” he smiled.
“I asked the nurse if there was any way I could increase my grub. So she did! I would ask for an extra pork chop, and I'd get one. I love it here.”
Billy was also known by friends as the Piano Man. Not because he tinkled the ivories – the harmonica was more his thing. It was due to his love of the classic Billy Joel tune. Son of the late Mary and William, Billy passed away peacefully at Milford Care Centre.
He was a brother to the late Mary and Noreen and partner to the late Marie – who died 13 years ago. He’s very deeply regretted by his brothers John, Christy and Timmy, as well as sisters Carol, Anne and Vivienne, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and frineds.