Sunday 18 February 2018

Family mourns swimmer who had 'passion for life'

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE Cork swimmer who died during a Channel crossing attempt, when he was just within sight of the French coast, was hailed as an inspiration to everyone through his passion for life.

Hundreds paid tribute to Paraic Casey, 45, as his Requiem Mass took place yesterday in his native Cork.

Mr Casey, from Passage West, was just 1km from the French coast when he suddenly fell ill at 3am last Sunday and had to be dragged from the sea into his support boat, Pace Arrow.

He died from a suspected heart attack.

Mr Casey -- who had been training for the Channel crossing attempt since last October -- had been just over 15 hours in the water when he fell ill.

Mourners were told yesterday by Fr Tom Hayes that Mr Casey fully appreciated that life was to be lived to the full.

"It is not how long we live -- rather it is what we do with the time we have. Paraic had a deep appreciation of that as he undertook his diligent, extraordinary preparation for his swim," he said.

Fr Hayes said that Mr Casey's beloved wife, Riana, fully understood his joy for life and his zeal for a challenge.

"Riana has put a nice word to sum up how he approached life. She said he had 'passion'. As Paraic noted in his own blog one day: 'Nothing great is easy.' We ask God to give us courage to live all of our lives to the full," Fr Hayes said. Mourners were told that it was typical of the man that Mr Casey had decided to use his Channel swim to benefit two charities -- St Vincent de Paul and Marymount Hospice.

The mourners were led yesterday at St Columba's Church in Douglas by Mr Casey's wife, Riana Parsons-Casey, his brother, Brian, and his sisters, Judy and Liz.

His wife said the family have been overwhelmed by messages of support and sympathy for "an amazing, healthy, tough, loving husband, friend, brother, uncle, son, nephew and cousin, whose recent passion for swimming brought him to great places".

The Mass heard that Mr Casey -- as well as being a lifelong swimming fan -- was also a talented cook and a gifted musician, who played the lead viola in the Cork Symphony Orchestra (CSO) up until last year, when he decided to focus all his efforts on preparing for the Channel swim.

Special tributes were paid to him yesterday by his CSO colleagues and Sandycove Swimming Club members, who wore grey T-shirts in his honour. He was one of seven swimmers from the club in Kinsale who were taking part in the crossing.

Mr Casey had lived in Galway for a time and worked as a wildlife ranger at Fota Wildlife Park. His father, the late Paraic Snr, operated the popular Rob Roy pub in Cork city centre for many years.

Sunday Independent

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