BY JACKIE KEOGH
ONE of the best-loved service providers, and the operator of Ireland’s only cable car, died suddenly last weekend.
Paddy Sheehan took ill at his home in the Dursey Sound on Sunday – just hours after he had facilitated a vet’s mercy mission to the island.
His first cousin, Martin Sheehan, told The Southern Star that Paddy had been out to the island himself the previous day, because he had to take sheep off a mountain for lambing.
Paddy Sheehan had the distinction of being the only man ever crowned the Calor Kosangas Homemaker of the Year, but his main claim to fame was as the steadfast operator of the iconic Dursey cable car. Martin said Paddy’s passing has shocked the entire community, especially as, at the age of 58, he was known to be ‘fit as a fiddle’.
‘Between running the cable car, farming, and running his successful B&B, Windy Point House,’ Martin said, ‘Paddy never needed to go to the gym.
‘He was always on the go, a lively character. He was a very pleasant man too. If you met him once, he would make an impression on you.’
And, according to Martin: ‘Whether it was Joe Soap or Pope Francis, he treated everyone the same. Paddy knew how important the cable car was to the island. He was heavily involved in the tourism industry himself, and he knew first-hand the benefit of tourism to the Beara area.
‘He appeared on several television programmes about the cable car. And, over the past couple of years, he had to deal with a huge increase in the volume of tourists visiting the island.’
Last year, Martin estimated, 17,000 people visited the island. ‘Ever since the introduction of the Wild Atlantic Way, the job has got way more demanding than it was 20 years ago.’
Paddy Sheehan is survived by his wife, Agnes, and children Damien and Madeline. Paddy’s removal to St Michael’s Church, Cahermore will take place on Thursday March 30th, for funeral Mass at 12 noon, with burial afterwards.
The family have asked for only family flowers, but for donations, if desired, to be given to Castletownbere RNLI.