IN THE long stretch of life, some may ask ‘What’s another year?’ For the Healy family in Adare, a year meant everything.
On April 23, 2022 Tom Healy went into cardiac arrest in the shadows of TUS Gaelic Grounds and was saved by three men who he didn’t know but who became important figures in his life story.
Almost exactly a year later, on April 22, 2023 Mr Healy passed away in the care of Beechwood Nursing Home in Newcastle West, surrounded by his loving family.
Professor Barry Linnane, Dr Michael Shinkwin and Declan Gill gave Mr Healy birthday celebrations with his family, another Limerick All-Ireland win and one more Christmas.
The 77 year-old was well-known in Adare and is mourned by members of Adare Manor Golf Club as well as Adare GAA Club, the latter of which he was president.
Most importantly, he was known as a devoted husband to Eileen, beloved father of Tom Jr and Deirdre McNamara and much-missed grandfather of Lucas.
Professor Linnane, Dr Shinkwin and Mr Gill were named the April Limerick Persons of the Month for their life-saving actions and, at the annual awards last month, they got the chance to meet Mr Healy’s family.
This moment, Tom Jr said, was “very emotional”.
“It was part of the healing for us. The two big emotions we felt on the day were loss and heartbreak but also gratitude and appreciation.
“When we were saying our goodbyes to dad obviously we were heartbroken but because of those three men we just appreciated the time that was given to us and we could reflect on that at the end”.
Tom Jr, who lives in Portugal, told the Limerick Leader / Limerick Live that he came home following his father’s heart attack and tried to track down the three men to thank them for saving his dad’s life.
“I brought three bottles of wine with me from Portugal and I put my son Lucas and my mother in the car and said ‘We are going on an adventure’.
“We went to Castleconnell and started knocking on doors, trying to find Declan’s house. We eventually found it but he wasn’t home so we left the wine and a note.
“Next, we set off to the North Circular Road in search of Barry and Michael. We knocked on doors and asked people in the street.
“Someone we stopped told us Michael was in the barbers so down we went. We went in while he was getting his hair cut, gave him a big hug and the wine.
“Finally we found Barry’s house and unfortunately he wasn’t there either. We gave his children the wine and left but a minute later his little daughter ran after us to say her dad was on the phone so we spoke to him. It was a lovely day for all of us.”
Mr Healy underwent a triple bypass six weeks after his heart attack, but Tom Jr said his father’s philosophy was to “just keep going”, no matter what the obstacle.
“He never complained and he tried to protect us from what he was going through. He was a complete warrior, he was diagnosed with a tumour then and underwent chemotherapy.
“The day after he got the all clear from the heart doctor, our mum had a fall and ended up going to the nursing home.
“Dad couldn’t drive at the time but he would take the bus to visit her every day, the only days he would miss was when he was at chemo himself”.
Tom said his father would be remembered as a leader, a man who lived to serve his family and his local community.
“He loved Adare but he showed us the world, holidays with him were always a blast. He lived with respect and discipline matched with fun.
“Everyone has a story about him and I would ask them to keep sharing them, he was a bit of a blaggard in his younger years! He made me the man I am.”
Before his father passed away, Tom Jr’s uncle told him that he had been working on a project to commemorate the late Harry Wilson.
Mr Wilson was the first Adare man to win an All-Ireland hurling medal with Limerick in 1941.
That game was to be his last as he joined the Canadian Air Force and was killed in World War Two.
Mr Healy was working on having a commemorative plaque placed on the Wilson house in Adare.
As his father grew weaker, Tom said he would see the project through as a tribute to his dad.
Tom Jr thanked the local community who rallied around the family following their loss especially Mary Dundon, Kieran Dundon, Cindy and Dermot Costello, Jackie and Liam Brennan, Catherine and Tommy Reidy, Monsignor Dan Neenan and the Adare GAA and Adare Manor Golf Club communities.
From the limerick Leader.
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