Thursday 14 December 2017

'He would never let anyone see his suffering' - Brother of tragic councillor Fergie Kehoe tells those suffering with depression to seek help

Cllr Fergie Kehoe
Cllr Fergie Kehoe
Cllr Fergie Kehoe.

David Looby

Fergie Kehoe's older brother Sean has appealed to anyone who is suffering from depression to reach out and seek help following the popular councillor's tragic death on Saturday aged 50.

Sean Kehoe, of Mount Carmel, New Ross, said: '"If there is anybody suffering from any kind of depression please don't hesitate to pick up the phone and ask for help as people are there on the other end of the line. Don't be afraid to ask for help."

Fergie posted several times on the social media website Facebook on Friday night, including one in which he asked people to reach out to those who are going through the "hardest times". He appealed to people not to turn their backs on people who are in turmoil and to reach out and call them.

Sean spoke of the family's loss, recalling the late county councillor, whose remains were discovered by a family member at his Wexford town home on Saturday morning, as a man who loved people and loved Wexford.

He said: "We are just doing the best we can. Fergie was the baby of the family. He was a real people person and the gentlest person you could ever meet. There was absolutely no aggression in the man.

"He was always of a very jolly disposition and he loved meeting people. It didn't matter if you were a pauper or the Pope, you were the same to him."

Sean said his brother always went out of his way to help people and to get to know anyone he met, especially in Sidetracks, the restaurant which he ran with his wife Frances over two decades on Wexford's quay front.

"They worked hand in hand. It was the only place in Wexford to get a breakfast. It was open seven days a week and Fergie was in every morning.

"Anyone who went into Sidetracks remembered Fergie when they left and he remembered them. There is a saying that you are only a stranger once and that was true of Fergie. He would go into people's homes and he would become part of everyone's family.

"He was that rare kind of person, with a warm, open heart. People were just drawn to him like a magnet. He was so outgoing and it really suited him. Fergie lived for people and he loved people."

Sean said Fergie got on well with people of every political persuasion.

"He got on very well with George Lawlo [Labour councillor]. He didn't care what colour shirt you were."

He said Fergie was well suited to life as a councillor as he knew everyone in Wexford and every nook and cranny of Wexford town. "He was appointed a Peace Commissioner and was chairman of the coroner's court. Anything he could do for Wexford he would do it, be it campaigning for the hospital or for mental health."

Sean said his late brother was a fantastic family man who was very close to his father John and son, Oisín.

"Oisín meant the world to him. He would go up to watch Oisín play with the Volunteers and he was always very proud of what his son did."

Recalling the last time he spoke to his brother, Sean said: "My Dad and I spent Friday with Fergie at the family home at Fisher's Row. Fergie was tending to the rose bushes. He loved his gardening.

"He came out to the front door and waved us off as we were going to Wygram Nursing Home where our Dad is staying.

"My last words to him were that I would see him over the weekend and he said OK. He would never let anyone see his suffering. There were very few people he would confide in but he would listen to other people's problems and take them on board."

Sean said Fergie was in good spirits and enjoyed a trip to Belgium with Cllr Lawlor as part of a twinning delegation in late March.

"He loved his council work. He missed Sidetracks sometimes but then there was so much council work to do. Money had nothing to do with it.

"He often said the workload was heavy after the town councils were disbanded but he just got on with it. He would never speak about the things he did or blow his own trumpet.

"A lot of people he helped have come out since his passing and told us about everything he did for them. Nobody will ever know how many people he helped. People came to him beause he had an open door policy."

Sean said the Kehoe family have been overwhelmed by all the messages of support they have received in recent days.

"The support we are after getting from Australia, America and every corner of the world has been absolutely tremendous.

"The amount of text messages, emails and Facebook messages. It shows how highly he was thought of. I am proud to call him my brother. All the support gives us a great lift in these dark times when everyone is in total shock and sadness.

"When we get over the shock in the next few weeks the next part will be the hardest. There is nobody that can replace Fergie."

Fergie is survived by his father, John; son, Oisín; wife, Frances; brothers Tom, Robbie, Sean and Eamon; mother-in-law Eileen Hore; brothers-in-law; sisters-in-law; uncle; nephews; nieces; relatives and friends.

Fergie reposed at Mulligan's Funeral Home, The Faythe, Wexford, yesterday (Monday). A prayer service is taking place today (Tuesday) at noon at the funeral home, with funeral Mass at 1 p.m. at the Church of the Immaculare Conception, Rowe Street.

Fergie Kehoe will be laid to rest afterwards at St Ibar's Cemetery, Crosstown.

If you need to talk to someone, contact the Samaritans on 116 123

Wexford People

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