HE was born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth of England and, in so many ways, he himself became the uncrowned King of Killarney.
There was great sadness in the town today when news filtered through of the passing, at the age of 95, of the legendary Donie Sheahan.
A many of many parts, Donie will be fondly remembered as a wonderfully caring pharmacist, a GAA legend who reached the pinnacle with club and county, a racing enthusiast who owned some great horses and a great community man who always gave more than he received in his determination to make Killarney a better place in which to live.
Born the 21st April 1926, Donie moved from his native Listowel to Killarney to take up the post as pharmacist at St Anne’s District Hospital and St Columbanus’ Home and, in 1953, with his Ballymac native wife Carmel (née Dowling), he set up a pharmacy business at 34 Main Street which became a real feature of commercial life in the town.
Now run by his son Liam and grandson William, the building is a real local landmark and a regular port of call due to the traditionally warm welcome and engaging conversation on the news of the day that always awaits locals and visitors.
A lifelong pioneer, Donie became one of the most respected GAA figures in Kerry. Having won a county championship medal with Dr Crokes in 1951, he went on to become a trainer, officer and selector with the black and amber, serving as chairman for over 20 years.
Patron of the club at the time of his passing and one of Colm Cooper’s greatest fans, his proudest days were watching the Crokes win two All-Ireland Club Championship successes in 1992 and 2017.
Donie trained a star-studded East Kerry team to win the All-Ireland Club Championship in 1971 and later became a selector with Kerry’s Golden Years teams, working side by side with Mick O’Dwyer.
Donie was a very successful horse owner and his most famous charges, For William and Dromhale Lady, gave Killarney and Kerry punters many exciting days of entertainment. lining their pockets on more than one occasion.
Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce has led the tributes to late Donie, saying he will be remembered as a true legend in Killarney business, sporting and community life.
Chamber President Niall Kelleher said Donie was enormously popular, loved by everyone and he played such an active role in the town.
“Sheahan’s Pharmacy is a real landmark in Killarney and Donie was always a welcoming presence behind the counter where his experience and expertise helped many people in so many ways for close on 70 years.
“His son, Liam, and grandson William, are still providing that wonderful service to the local people and to visitors and our thoughts are very much with the extended Sheahan family at this sad time,” the Chamber President said.
Mr Kelleher noted that in addition to his business life, Donie played an integral part in the growth and success of his beloved Dr Crokes Club, East Kerry and Kerry teams and in the development of Fitzgerald Stadium which he overlooked from his home on Lewis Road.
“He was also famous for his involvement in horse racing and he enjoyed nothing more than when of the racehorses he owned competed in Killarney or in his native Listowel, often with great success,” he said.
Predeceased by his beloved wife, Carmel, Donie is survived by his sons Liam, Kieran and Paul, daughters Catherine and Aileen and extended family.