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The community in Lisdoonvarna is still in shock following the killing of Mr O'Neill. Photograph by John Kelly

Late John O’Neill was ‘one of those bright characters’

Owen Ryan heard warm tributes to the late John O’Neill who was killed last Friday in Lisdoonvarna

MANY tributes have been paid to the late John O’Neill since his death last Friday, with people in Lisdoonvarna describing him as very friendly, likeable and holding a wide range of interests.

John was in his late seventies and was predeceased by his wife Christine, who died last year. He is survived by his two sons, Seán and Graham, and a number of grandchildren.

John and Christine had run a prominent B&B on St Brendan’s Road in Lisdoonvarna, while it was also home to a painting school.

Heather Crowe, who runs the Ritz Hotel and Bar in Lisdoonvarna very close to the O’Neill’s home said the death had caused huge shock in the area.

“There has been a huge cloud over the town since this news last Friday morning.

“John was a well respected man, the family are well respected in the town. He was the last person that anyone would have expected anything to have happened to.”

Being based so close to John’s home, she spoke to him very regularly.

“I’d have met him nearly every day, going up and down to the shop, or going in the car. He loved going off cycling when the weather was nice. It’s very, very sad.

“He was very popular, he was such a likeable man and everyone knew him. They ran a very successful B&B business there and a painting school there for years, so he was very well-known and respected.”

Heather said that in years gone by the O’Neills had been very involved in promoting the area.

“They would have promoted the town and everything that was going on in the town down through the years, both himself and Chris.”

Local councillor Joe Garrihy said he had known the O’Neill family all his life and sent his condolences.

He said they had lived at the premises on St Brendan’s Road for many years.

“That’s where they lived when they got married, they went in there and Chris ran a very successful painting studio. Chris particularly would have been very involved in tourism circles. She would have been a founder of the Burren ecotourism network, which subsequently went onto a lot of success.”

Councillor Garrihy said that John was a very likeable person and that all of the family are very well regarded.

“He was one of those bright characters, he had a wide range of life experience and had a very broad range of interests from sport to politics and business.

“He was a very interesting man to meet, and when you’d meet him you’d walk away feeling a bit refreshed. Chris would have been the same. Sean and Graham, the two sons, would be very well known, they’d take after their parents.”

“They are very popular people and they’d have inherited their parents’ love of people and their ability to communicate and to work with people.”

He said that John will be greatly missed in Lisdoonvarna, and he said there is a lot of sadness following his passing.

“There’s a sense of numbness. Even still people are disbelieving that this has happened. The circumstances are very tragic, it’s very difficult to lose someone but when it’s in circumstances like that it’s really difficult.

“The community would be very close on St Brendan’s Road, and it’s affecting everyone there, right on their doorstep. There’s still very much a sense of shock around the area.”

Many people have posted messages of condolence on the Lisdoonvarna Community Facebook page and there have also been tributes to John.

One person described him as “the nicest man you could meet”, while another said he was “such a wonderful man, a gentleman who will be truly missed.”

John’s remains were brought to Limerick for a post mortem and the funeral at Corpus Christi Church in Lisdoonvarna will be on Friday morning at 11am, followed by burial at the Holy Rosary Cemetery in Doolin.

The funeral mass and burial will be streamed at https://funeralslive.ie/john-o-neill/.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.