TRAGIC PASSING The late Declan Heneghan.
THE tightly-knit rural community around Kilmaine has been plunged into mourning with news of the sudden passing of Declan Heneghan in New York.
The 42 year-old father-of-two, who is a native of Rathgranagher, died suddenly last weekend.
He had been living and working as a plumber in New York for more than 20 years.
Declan’s parents, Padraic and Helen, had only recently returned home after visiting their daughter Aoife, who also lives in New York.
He is survived by his wife, Karen, and children, Liam and Zoey.
Derek O’Dea, who played alongside Declan on the Kilmaine team that won the 1998 Mayo Minor ‘A’ championship title, described the man known as ‘Skip’ to his friends as ‘the life and soul of the party’.
“If you were out for a night he was always in good spirits. He was never down in the dumps,” Derek told The Mayo News yesterday afternoon (Monday).
“If you were down in the dumps yourself, and you spent a while with ‘Skip’, and spent a while in his company, you’d come out in a lot better mood.”
While living in America, Declan maintained a passion for Mayo GAA, so much so that he was known to some New Yorkers as ‘Mayo’.
He also kept a close eye on the goings-on in his native Kilmaine GAA club.
In 2018, he flew home from New York to attend a reunion of Kilmaine’s 1998 Minor ‘A’ winning team, which included club legends like Pat Kelly and Brian Maloney.
“From a football perspective, his proudest moment was when we won the Minor in 1998. He was corner-forward on that team with his trusted left boot,” Derek said.
“He’d be watching and listening to all the Kilmaine games from New York. You’d always get the ‘good luck’ text from him before a game. You’d always get the ‘well done’ or the ‘hard luck’ text from him, depending on how the game would go.”
As well as being a proud son of Mayo and Kilmaine, Declan was also a loving father to Liam and Zoey, who Derek said were ‘his pride and joy’.
Kilmaine GAA clubman, and South Mayo GAA Board chairman, Donal Walsh, said that the area has been ‘devastated’ by the tragic news.
“It’s a sad thing to say, but we’re kind of used to it,” he said, referring to the number of tragic deaths associated with the area in recent times.
“I wouldn’t call it immune, but definitely we’re used to this tragic thing. It’s just horrendous. It just keeps going on, this wheel keeps turning. I just hope it stops now.”
Local county councillor Michael Burke said that the whole area was ‘deeply shocked’ by Declan’s passing.
“It’s an awful blow to any family, I couldn’t believe it when I heard it,” said Cllr Burke.
Fr Michael Gormally, parish priest of Ballinrobe and a former chaplain of Ballinrobe Community School, knew Declan well from his schooldays.
“He was a nice lad who always had a smile on his face,” he recalled.
Declan Heneghan is survived by his wife Karen, his daughter Zoey, his son Liam, his parents Padraic and Helen, his sisters Aoife and Trish, his brother Mark and many other relatives, family and friends.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.