World renowned Clare musician Sharon Shannon has paid tribute to her late father who died unexpectedly last month.
I.J. Shannon of Bealacana, Ruan passed away on December 23rd aged 93 years.
He was pre-deceased by his wife Mary and is survived by his children Mary, Sharon, Majella and Garry, their spouses, grandchildren, nephew and nieces.
In a moving tribute to her late father, Sharon Shannon posted a lengthy message on her Facebook page on Tuesday. It reads:
Hello my good friends.
I’ve been putting this off for days, but I need to let you all know in case you hadn’t heard, my adorable father I.J. – the great ‘Daddy Shannon’ – passed away unexpectedly but peacefully in the arms of his loving family on December 23rd.
We are all grateful and relieved that he didn’t have to suffer, and that he was in the comfort of his own home when he slipped away.
He was 93, almost 94 actually and he had a great life. If we could, we’d be holding on to him for another 94 years.
It goes without saying that we will all miss him enormously, but he got a mighty send-off that he’d have been proud of with plenty of music and singing and stories.
Sharon also post the ‘lovely upbeat eulogy’ which was written by her brother Garry and read out at the funeral mass:
I.J. moved to Bealacana from Willbrook 70 years ago and was made feel right at home by the neighbours who were boundsing him, Tommo Daffy, Joe Casey, Jimmy Hynes, Dónal O’ Brien, Joe Waters, Thomas Hehir and Micho Halloran.
Those people have long gone to their eternal reward but the friendships forged in the fifties last down to the present day – it’s now the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those original neighbours who kindly stop and chat with I.J. on the road – and he loved that – the age gap was never a barrier.
After 10 years gallivanting around Ruan and Corofin, he married our mother Mary in 1962.
He loved animals, the cattle, the sheep, the goats, the hens and geese, and the cats and dogs…and especially horses. I remember him borrowing Mike Hogan’s big horse and he would put me on the horses’ back and he’d plough all day – with the horse endlessly breaking wind and the dog barking non-stop at the sound of it.
He and our mother drove us all over the country bringing us to gymkhanas and horseshows. That was his real passion.
He had revolutionary driving techniques, especially driving on the right hand side of the road coming up to a bend – so that if there was anything coming, he’d see them sooner!
And In spite of how fast he drove, we were never in time for school. He had many an accident on the way – with Paddy Lyons or Rose Moloney or Dermot Glynn and the car was like a battered oilcan – and we’d be egging him on – “up to 90 Daddy, up to 90!”
He was always singing and had bits of dozens of songs – and no full song! He introduced us to music by bringing a traveller musician home from the creamery one day to play the mouth organ for us and stay for the dinner.
He brought us to the Teach Ceoil in Corofin for music classes every week, and to Toonagh for the ceilis and later to the Fleadhs all over the country – the whole lot of us in a small caravan.
I.J. loved the oul’ gamble at Murty Kelly’s in Ruan where he relied on luck rather than skill. He was well looked after by Gerry Kelly, Joe O’ Brien, Pat O’ Loughlin and all of them. We’d ask him next day how he’d got on and he’d say: …Grand shur – the Heagneys won again!
Even when he got old, he was still involved in what was happening at the farm and kept me on the straight & narrow, advising and enquiring and encouraging and pointing things out in the Farmer’s Journal.
He had ups and downs with depression but despite declining health, he was mainly positive. He used up all his nine lives in close shaves over the last 20 years, and was fiercely determined every time to recover and to keep himself in working order with exercises, riding the go-kart and so on. We all thought he was indestructible because of all the times he came back from the dead!
He was very proud of us and of his 11 grandchildren and loved to slip them a few bob to encourage them to visit him and he loved to meet their girlfriends and boyfriends – even though he struggled to pronounce some of their names.
IJ went to visit his old friend Dónal O’ Brien (Dano) when he was in hospital 30 years ago and
Dónal said to him: “If I die here, we’ll meet at Bealacana Bridge”.
And we’re saying the same today: Goodbye I.J. old friend… We’ll meet… at the bridge.
In just 18 hours, the post had been viewed by thousands of people all over the world with almost 5,000 people leaving their own comments and tributes.
This morning, Sharon posted: “Thank you all so much for your beautiful messages of condolence. We all really appreciate your support and kindness. I haven’t got through all the texts and likes yet but I will read them all bit by bit. Thanks again from the bottom of our hearts. You are all amazing, and I wish you all a very happy new year.”
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.