WHEN 78-year-old Michael Sheahan steps from an aeroplane high over Offaly on Saturday, he’ll return to earth with memories of his beloved late wife, Evelyn, flooding his thoughts.
Evelyn Ryan, who was from Knockalough, Kilmihil, died last year of a brain aneurysm.
All money raised will be donated to the Friends of A, a group formed by family and friends, in memory of former Texas Rose of Tralee contestant, Adrienne Elizabeth Hussey. The fund aids cranial aneurysm research, through the establishment of the University of Limerick Adrienne Hussey Scholarship.
“I thought it was going to be 30,000 feet but it’s only 10,000,” Michael replied, when asked how high he had to fly before skydiving back down.
“Not at all,” he laughed when a possible fear of heights was broached.
Currently, he has raised €7,500 and is aiming to reach €10,000 come the weekend. “Originally, I said it would be great if we raised €5,000 but now we’re aiming for €10,000. It would be lovely if we could buy some equipment for the university hospital and Evelyn’s name could be put on the equipment,” he said.
Michael visited The Clare Champion on Wednesday, which ironically, is located around the corner from where he met his late wife.
“Just across the road from here was where I met Evelyn for the first time, in Daisy’s shop, just opposite the cathedral. I was coming out here selling bacon for six and a half years. Then I was sent up to the midlands. I was gone for five or six years,” he recalled.
When Michael moved back to Limerick, he volunteered one evening to teach a friend how to drive. “We went to Ennis. I said I’d call in and say hello to Daisy Redican. As I was leaving, I said to her ‘how’s Evelyn getting on?’ She said she was in college in Limerick and was staying with the nuns but wasn’t too happy there. Do you know anywhere she might stay?” Daisy asked Michael.
He didn’t have to think for long. Michael’s mother was delighted to welcome Evelyn as a lodger and, a few years later, they were mother and daughter-in-law.
“We fell madly in love and that was it. We had a super life. A fabulous life,” Michael reflected fondly.
His son, Paudie, describes himself as “the eldest and smallest” of his brothers. They loved visiting Knockalough as much as their mother did.
“We were there every Sunday. Being in Knockalough in the 1970s meant we were the last age group to save hay, cut turf and go to the creamery,” he remembers.
As for the skydive, Paudie has no concerns. “We have no fears of Dad doing it because of the nick he is in,” Paudie said.
Michael’s weekend will be rather hectic. After jumping from the aeroplane on Saturday, he is due in Tralee on Sunday, to meet the current Roses and take part in a 10km walk.
His first job, though, is to land somewhere in Offaly the day before.
Anybody who would like to contribute to the fund can do so by going to www.idonate.ie and searching for Michael Sheahan’s fundraising page.