Friday 26 May 2017

'The ultimate family man' – Family of dad killed in kayaking accident

The O'Donohue family, Eamonn and Sharon together with their kids Sarah (14) and twins Alex and Lucy (12)
The O'Donohue family, Eamonn and Sharon together with their kids Sarah (14) and twins Alex and Lucy (12)
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The family of a man who was killed in a tragic kayaking accident on Saturday has said “our whole world has been rocked”.

Father-of-three Eamonn O’Donohoe died after getting into difficulty while kayaking on Lough Ree in Co Roscommon.

Eamonn (46), who was originally from Palmerstown in Dublin, had been living with his wife Sharon and three kids in Roscommon since 2006.

In a touching tribute to her “wonderful” husband, Sharon O’Donohoe said he was the ultimate family man.

Eamonn O'Donohoe was an
Eamonn O'Donohoe was an "experienced water enthusiast"

“He was a man who lived for his kids,” she told Independent.ie.

“He was the best Dad in the world, very family orientated. I don’t even know how to describe how good a person he was. He would go out of his way to help anybody,” she added.

Sharon met Eamonn back in 1993 while he was working as a teacher. He later went on to study computer training and did lots of analytical work for Bank of Ireland and AIB.

The couple got married in September 1999 and had been together for 18 years.

They have three kids together – Sarah (14) and twins Alex and Lucy (12).

“Nobody had anything bad to say about him. He would never do a wrong turn to anyone.

“He was a very fascinating person. People were kind of drawn to him because he would always have an answer to any sort of problem. He was quite intelligent and very good at a lot of things.”

Sharon said they have been overwhelmed by the support of the local community in Kiltoom, Athlone.

“Everybody has been so good, so kind,” she said.

A family friend also paid tribute to Eamonn.

"Eamonn was such a lovely man with a passion and love of the sport of kayaking, which he instilled into his three beautiful children. He turned his hobby into a family event.

"He had his own unique way of doing things and was fascinating to be around. We are going to miss him by the river bank. The whole community is devastated by this tragedy."

Cllr Aengus O'Rourke (FF), whose children attend the same school as Sarah, Alex and Lucy said the community is in complete shock.

"You would regularly see them coming and going to school with kayaks on their car. A daily kayak trip would be nothing to the O'Donohue's," he told Independent.ie.

"The community is in utter shock and disbelief. The death of a young man doing what he did best and what he loved is heartbreaking. Our hearts go out to his children, who are friends of my children.

"This has come as a huge shock to us all".

The alarm was raised on Saturday after Mr O'Donohoe went missing between Lecarrow and Hodson Bay at around lunchtime.

His daughter Sarah and wife Sharon called the coast guard after he was an hour late returning.

The Coastguard helicopter from Sligo joined the search and identified him and his kayak in the water.

He was unconscious and was brought by lifeboat to Coosan Point. He was transferred to an ambulance and brought to Portiuncula Hospital in Galway, where he later died.

Sharon said he had kayaked that route “so many times” but it is not yet clear what happened.

Weather conditions are believed to have been very windy, cold and wet while he was kayaking.

Speaking this morning, Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat helm Stan Bradbury said: "We are deeply saddened to learn that the gentleman did not make it. Our thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time. May he rest in peace."

Gardaí have launched an investigation into the incident.

In a statement, gardaí said: “Following a search a male kayaker in his 40s was discovered in the water near Coosan Point, Athlone at approximately 1.30pm on Saturday."

A post-mortem is due to be carried out on Monday.

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