Swimmer had courage to ‘dive in and make a difference’

The “heroic and inspirational” traits of swimmer Páraic Casey who died while attempting to cross the English Channel for charity were remembered at his requiem Mass over the weekend.

Mr Casey, from Mariners’ View, Passage West, Co Cork, died from a heart attack on Jul 22 just 1km from the French coast. He was undertaking the challenge to raise funds for Marymount Hospice in Cork and St Vincent de Paul.

On Saturday, at Páraic’s requiem Mass at St Columba’s Church in Douglas, Cork, chief celebrant, Fr Tom Hayes, said the swimming enthusiast had a visible passion for life.

“It is not how long we live. It is what we do with the time we have. Páraic had a deep appreciation of that as he undertook his diligent, extraordinary preparation for his swim. Riana (his wife) has a nice word to sum up how he approached it. She said he had ‘passion.’ As Páraic noted in his blog one day “Nothing great is easy.”

“We ask God to give us courage to live all of our lives to the full.”

Fr Hayes said Páraic had the courage to “dive in and make a difference” in all aspects of his life. Hundreds of mourners were told that all those who knew Páraic were struck by his personal qualities and values in life.

“Páraic’s decision to raise funds to help two worthy challenges while also striving for a personal goal remains an inspiration to many people. I know that in this most difficult time it is a real consolation that so many people have responded in such an extraordinary generous way to the spark that begun in the heart of Páraic.”

Among those who gathered to pay tribute to the 45-year-old were members of the Sandycove Island Swim Club, who wore grey club T-shirts, co workers of Páraic’s at Fota Wildlife Park where he was employed with the education team, and Cork Symphony Orchestra who provided music for the mass.

Páraic was the principal viola player for the orchestra up until last year when to took a step back to focus on training for his Channel attempt.

Offertory gifts at the Mass included a fiddle signifying Páraic’s love of music, a cook book denoting his fondness for all things culinary and a swimming T-shirt he designed.

Mourners heard that Páraic had a huge passion for cooking and excelled in making chocolate cake and scones. Top on his to “to do” list was devising a recipe for his own baking powder. Páraic’s love for the fiddle originated in Australia where he took up the instrument having previously played classical instruments with the Irish and European Youth Orchestra’s.

In a statement released last week Páraic’s wife Riana described her husband as “amazing.”

” I would like to thank everyone for their love and support. Páraic was an amazing, healthy, tough, loving husband, friend, brother, uncle, son, nephew and cousin. His recent passion for swimming brought him to great places.”

Páraic signed up for the 35km English Channel swim two years ago and intensified his training in the run-up to the event.

Previous achievements include a 16km swim between Cork and Cobh and a relay swim with his wife in Lake Zurich.

Páraic is survived by his wife, Riana Parsons, brother Brian and sisters, Judy and Liz. Following requiem Mass he was cremated at the Island Crematorium in Ringaskiddy.

The family of the late Mr Casey asked that donations be made to St Vincent de Paul, Galway or Marymount Hospice in Cork in lieu of flowers.

The two charities Páraic was raising funds for by swimming the English Channel for have seen donations swell by thousands of euro in the aftermath of his death. Online donations have surged to close to €11,000. Páraic’s donation target was €1,000.

Some of those who have donated on the my charity.ie page have left messages describing Páraic as an “inspiration” and “the kindest hero”.

* Donations can be made at http://www.mycharity.ie/event/paraics_channel_swim/

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