Family and friends of champion Irish and British athlete Ailish Sheehan have been celebrating her life and achievements ahead of her funeral Mass.
The 23-year oldpassed away last Friday, five days after sustaining head injuries in a fall.
Earlier that day Ailish, from Kildimo, Co Limerick, was part of the Great Britain team which won bronze in the final of the women’s senior coxed fours at the FISU World University Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland.
Paying tribute to his daughter’s remarkable sporting achievements, John Sheehan said proudly: “We are so thrilled with the life she led.”
Regarded as his daughter’s closest of coaches, he said: “Ailish was wise, wild, determined, and about as fun as anyone could be.”
The heartbroken family have swapped stories with her former teachers, neighbours, and friends, about her zest for life and heroic strides to sporting success.
Mr Sheehan, who played for Cork minors and St Mary’s London hurling team, was a former trainer with the Limerick senior hurling team.
He told yesterday how more than 80,000 spectators attending a Notre Dame v Nevada college football game at South Bend, Indiana observed a minute’s silence last Saturday in memory of his daughter.
Her name was etched on the University of Notre Dame Hall of Fame after she was been selected on the All-American Athletic Second Team in 2015.
A former member of St Michael’s Rowing Club, Limerick, and Dooneen Athletic Club, Ailish represented University of London at the World Championships in Poland ahead of her death.
Prior to focusing on rowing, the dual-citizen athlete had established herself as one of Ireland’s leading shot put and javelin athletes — representing Ireland at International Schools level, and later at the Celtic Games in Scotland.
A fund set up in her memory on the Go-fund-me website and to be used towards a celebration of her life, has received over $13,000 (€11,000) from around the world.
Keven Bell of The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is arranging to have Ailish’s body flown back to Ireland for her funeral.
Ms Sheehan’s remains are expected to lie in repose at the family home in Kildimo, prior to her funeral mass and private cremation in Cork.
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