A letter outlining a daughter’s love for her father and heartache at his loss was read out at the funeral of a kayaker who tragically died at the weekend.
Father-of-three Eamonn O'Donohoe(46) went missing while kayaking on Lough Ree in Co Roscommon on Saturday morning. He was unconscious when located by search and rescue teams and died at Portiuncula Hospital on Saturday evening.
The IT worker and kayaking enthusiast was originally from Dublin but lived in Kiltoom, Athlone, Co Roscommon with his wife Sharon, daughters Sarah(14) and Lucy(12) and son Alex(12).
Fr Michael McManus spoke of the community’s sadness and “state of shock at his untimely passing” at Mass of the Resurrection in the Church of the Risen Christ in Ballybay, Co Roscommon this morning, where hundreds of people attended to pay their last respects.
On the day he died, the experienced kayaker was doing “the thing he loved best after his family,” he explained.
He said “Eamonn was enjoying his favourite pastime planning to meet his wife Sharon and family at Hodson Bay.”
Fr McManus read a letter written by Eamonn's daughter Sarah. She expressed thanks for the “overwhelming kindness and support” from their neighbours, friends, schools and kayaking community in recent days. “We are so grateful to you all,” she wrote.
“My Dad’s death has come as such a shock to all of us. He was a happy, healthy young man. It still doesn’t feel so real. Only last Friday he got home from work and asked me how my day was. My heart still aches over the fact we lost him the next day,” she wrote.
Sarah said “Daddy was such a kind intelligent person. His personality was so unique, I never met anyone else like him. Dad loved our family very much, my mother especially. They were two soul mates. Their love for each other could be sensed by everyone. He loved his kids. He was so proud of his two daughters and had a son Alex to carry on the O’Donohoe name.”
She recalled how her father would, without fail, help out neighbours whenever they had issues with phones or computers. She said he loved his work and it had brought him so much fulfilment.
Through his passion for kayaking, Mr O’Donohoe made friends throughout Ireland, she explained. “He would always bring a spare kayak for the races so that others could try them out,” she wrote. Sarah recalled how “my Dad and I volunteered with the kayaks to help with water rescue to support swimmers for the Athlone Triathlon 2015.”
“Life won’t be easy without my Dad but I know everything will be ok. I love you so very much. I hope you are enjoying your time in heaven,” she wrote.
Gifts reflecting Mr O’Donohoe’s life were brought to the top of the church as the mass began. Lucy brought a macaroni recipe, indicating “their closeness as they made this recipe together”. Alex brought up his Dad’s kayaking paddle, a token of their mutual bond in sport.
Sarah carried a family photo. Mr O’Donohoe’s nephew Rory brought his uncle's first kayaking trophy while another nephew Liam carried Eamonn’s computer mouse as a sign of his love for his work.
Fr McManus passed on a message from the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, who had contacted him to offer his sincerest sympathy to the O’Donohoe family.
On behalf of the family, Fr McManus thanked the emergency services, Lough Ree Yacht Club, RNLI, Irish Coast Guard, An Garda Siochana, Garda Water Unit, the ambulance crew and the doctors and nurses at Portiuncula Hospital. They also thanked the local community, Ballyboy NS and the different organisations who formed a guard of honour.
Mr O’Donohoe was laid to rest in Kiltoom Cemetery following the mass.
He is survived by his wife Sharon, son Alex, daughters Sarah and Lucy mother in law Kay Ryan, brother in law Martin and his wife Maria, sister in law Carmella, nephews Liam and Rory.