Late Chris Hennessy remembered lovingly on RTÉ's 'Geansaí'
Bedford native Chris Hennessy, who died at the tragically young age of 40 two years ago is being remembered with deep affection this week as RTÉ broadcasts a show about the GAA club he founded in his adopted Germany shortly before he passed away.
Chris was recalled in glowing terms by friends and clubmates in The Geansaí show on RTÉ One on Tuesday night. The episode entitled 'Ich bin ein Berliner' saw presenter Sinéad Ní Churnáin visiting the Berlin GAA team - a club that has fast become one of the most important focal points for the Irish in the German capital.
It was Chris who founded the club and its vibrancy today is his wonderful legacy in a city where he is very much not forgotten.
"We are so proud of Chris and all that he achieved in Berlin," sister Michelle told The Kerryman this week ahead of Tuesday's Geansaí programme.
"Chris qualified as an architect, but lost his job like so many when the recession hit. It was then he decided to go travelling and met his partner Katharina Kunzel in India."
After being back and forth to her home city of Berlin, Chris eventually settled there as the couple ushered little Tristan into the world (now aged 6).
"Chris was always mad about the GAA, sports and soccer. After he moved to Berlin he was keen to make friends and used to go to the Templehof for a bit of a run-around and it was there he set up the Berlin GAA Club with some of the friends he had made from the Irish pub in the city," Michelle explained.
Tragically, Chris would not live to experience club life in full himself, developing cancer at the age of 40 - an illness he lived bravely with until his untimely death in February of 2015. However, his spirit lives on at the club, his named emblazoned on the Berlin jersey and a hurling tournament that's getting bigger and better every year named in his memory. "It's incredible really, today you have people of all nationalities playing GAA with Berlin."
RTÉ interviewed two Iraqi brothers who are fast becoming polished hurlers with the side; as well as German native and Berlin GAA club secretary Robert Henneberg. Such is Robert's love of all things Irish he is now a fluent speaker of our mother tongue, having spent the past five years learning Irish with the help of the local Conradh na Gaeilge branch.
All of it stands as an incredible testament to Chris's cultural vision, to the pride of Katharina, mom and dad John and Helen, sister Michelle and brothers John and Philip - and no doubt to Tristan as he learns more of his extraordinary father.