FR Seán O’Shea, a former RAF chaplain and a beloved priest from Beara, passed away peacefully on Monday at the age of 94.
A neighbour at his native West End, Castletownbere, Anne Marie Cronin, said Fr O’Shea was remarkable in many respects, especially his ability to bridge the gap between young and old.
‘It didn’t matter what age you were,’ she said, ‘he would be able to strike up a conversation with anyone. Everyone knew him to be a gentle, caring person, who was full of fun and knew how to live life to the full.’
Anne Marie said it was a mark of the man that he was ‘on call 24/7 and would leave his bed at three, four, or five in the morning and go into the hospital and sit with grieving families.’ He even said mass in St Joseph’s Hospital in Castletownbere every Saturday night right up until March 2017.
Another friend, retired Sgt Fachtna O’Donovan, said: ‘They broke the mould when they made him.’
He described how Fr O’Shea, the youngest of four, joined the priesthood in the 1940s and was first sent to Motherwell in Scotland before he joined the RAF as a chaplain.
It was during his time of service that he developed a close friendship with another well-known local, Dr Aidan McCarthy.
When Fr O’Shea retired from the RAF he returned to Castletownbere to care for his elderly mother and was appointed as the parish priest of Bere Island.
He immersed himself in community life on Bere Island and was also actively involved in a huge range of community activities on the mainland.
He was also a founder member of the Berehaven Credit Union, as well as having the distinction of becoming RNLI chaplain when the region’s first lifeboat arrived.