Look for the sun that shines through the rain

Marie Carroll O’Sullivan, author of Killarney Behind the Mask (left) pictured with Garda Diane Collins Twohig and her baby, Olivia, at the launch of the book.
Picture: Marek Hajdasz

KILLARNEY Community Garda Diane Collins Twohig, whose late husband Paudie was also a popular Garda in the town, has told just how much it means to her that the charity book, Killarney Behind the Mask is dedicated to his memory.

Diane and Paudie were both very much involved in the early stages of the project but little did they think then that they would go from being one of its supporters to becoming so familiar with the Irish Cancer Society, one of the beneficiaries of the book.

The author and creative force behind the publication, Marie Carroll O’Sullivan of the Little Memory Gallery, has dedicated the publication to her parents, Mary and the late Pat, as well as to Paudie who was a very familiar face on the streets of Killarney where he spent several years on the beat.

The late Paudie Twohig
Diane Collins Twohig

He passed away last summer after a short and devastating battle with stage four melanoma.

Diagnosed on 30th March, his prognosis was terminal and there were many plans that needed to be put in place but Paudie had his own plan; opting to replace the word possibly with probably when the question arose if he would make it to July for the birth of their second baby.

He celebrated his 44th birthday in April, his daughter Tara Grace’s second birthday in June and the birth of his new daughter, Olivia Hope Paud, on 27th July.

He held her for 20 minutes before returning to the palliative care ward and, amazingly, he held on for his beloved wife Diane’s birthday, on 31st July, before passing away the next morning.

Paudie and Diane met on her first day on the beat in Killarney in 2006 and they were married in St Mary’s Cathedral in 2018.

Remembering Garda Paudie Twohig, to whom Behind the Mask, a book for charity, is dedicated, were Superintendent Flor Murphy, Garda Orla O’Shea, Garda Diane Collins Twohig, wife of the late Paudie, and Garda Eddite Walsh. Picture: Marek Hajdasz

Speaking at the launch of Killarney Behind the Mask, at the Killarney Avenue Hotel on Saturday, Diane said their involvement with the book gave Paudie and herself a focus while he was battling with his illness and it gave her a goal afterwards.

Behind the Mask is an incredible piece of work. Marie found the positive side of the pandemic and captured the very spirit of what has got all of us through the last two years.

“I am truly humbled that she has dedicated this book to Paudie. He was so happy that sharing our story helped and that something good could come out of something so difficult,” Diane said.
Reflecting on the life she shared with her fellow Garda, Diane said Paudie was like no one she had ever met before.

A final kiss for Garda Paudie Twohig from his wife Garda Diane Collins as the funeral cortege paused at Killarney Garda Station, last August.
Picture: Marie Carroll-O’Sullivan

“He was very kind, loyal, fun-loving, always up for the craic, never on time but always making time for others. He was my world.

“Little did I know when I started out on this journey with Marie, in October 2020, where that road would take me. On the 30th of March this year our world turned upside down and we faced our worst nightmare,” she reflected.

“You never count the hours until they are running out and for four short months and two days, Paudie battled to reach each goal which is beautifully summed up in the book,” Diane said.
She added: “A broken heart opens you to the very core. It leaves sharp and very jagged edges but the kindnesses and support we have received has helped round and smooth these.

“This project has helped get me through the hard days and the nights that feel like forever, so from the bottom of my broken heart, thank you to those involved.

Sergeant Diarmuid O’Shea salutes as the funeral cortege winds its way through the streets of Killarney last August.
Picture: Marie Carroll-O’Sullivan

“Our girls, Tara Grace and Olivia, each have their own piece of Killarney to treasure about their daddy.

“Paudie, with this book I can hear your heartbeat for a thousand miles. We will never forget you,” she said.

Diane acknowledged that, sometimes, life is sad and things don’t turn out the way we expect but if we help each other, at least we won’t have to be sad alone.

“We have all experienced this over the last two years and Behind the Mask beautifully captures these sentiments. So as we face 2022 with Covid still part of our everyday lives, let’s keep this in mind – be thankful for what we have, get up, live and go on for our loved ones we have lost.

“As Paud used to say, keep the bright side out and let’s all look for the sun that shines through the rain,” Diane said.

Following his passing last August, Paudie visited his adopted home town of Killarney one last time as his funeral cortege wound its way through the streets before he was laid to rest at St Colman’s Cemetery in Macroom, following Requiem Mass at St John the Baptist Church in his native Ballinagree, Co Cork.

Diane Collins Twohig (right) at the launch of Killaney Behind the Book with her sister-in-law Sinead Collins who designed the book.
Picture: Marek Hajdasz

Over 200 Gardaí formed a guard of honour outside Killarney Garda Station for the hugely respected father-of-two and Diane placed his garda hat on his tri-colour draped coffin before his colleagues paused for a minute’s silence in his honour.

Paudie’s final journey through the packed summertime streets of Killarney was greeted with sustained applause from the community that held him in very high regard. His popularity, professional manner, compassion and signature smile is huge loss to the people of Killarney and to his colleagues at Killarney Garda Station.

Proceeds from the sale of Killarney Behind the Mask will go to the Kerry branch of the Irish Cancer Society and Nathan’s Walk/Pieta House with pampering vouchers for staff of the Covid ward at University Hospital Kerry.

The book, designed by Sinead Collins of Design by Sinead and edited by John O’Mahony of O’Mahony Media, retails at €35 and it is available at Eason on Main Street, Bricín on High Street, Kerry Catering Supplies at the Countess Shopping Centre and O’Connor’s Newsagents on Beech Road.