Gerard Sheehan spoke out yesterday a day after his brother Paul’s funeral to tell people his family did what they could to help him and were driving the streets looking for him on the night he died.
Gerard said his “gentle soul” brother struggled with alcohol addiction from an early age, had been through treatment, and had turned down several offers of help, preferring to spend time on his own.
“He was in treatment six times. He did try. He had a bed, he could have come in with us, but no drink. And drink comes first with an alcoholic. Simple and plain. Before love and before family,” said Gerard.
“If you are an alcoholic you will get drink. He would never ask you for anything. He was so respectful and so quiet. He wouldn’t harm a fly.”
Paul Sheehan, 53, a father of one originally from St Mary’s Avenue, Cathedral Rd, on the northside, was found dead on Wandesford Quay, near the city centre, at around 7am on March 18.
In a lengthy interview with the Neil Prendeville Show on RedFM yesterday, Gerard said: “To see your younger brother with a blue blanket thrown over him. All of his family tried and Paul tried very hard. He loved his son.”
He revealed the often brutal conditions his vulnerable brother, who walked with the aid of two sticks and who slept regularly in a doorway on Washington St, had to endure while living on the streets.
“Most people were very good to him. But people would come along during the night when they were drunk and kick him. They would take money. It goes on. He was beat with hatchets. He was beat with hammers. That man never hurt anyone in his life,” he said.
Gerard said when he saw Paul laid out in the coffin during the week, the look of pain had left his face.
Gerard paid tribute to Cork Penny Dinners, where Paul ate almost daily, and singled out Catriona Twomey for special praise.
“Penny Dinners was the only place he knew he was safe. He was a respectful man. Thank God drink never took that from him,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Mass of Remembrance will be celebrated at the Holy Trinity Church today for another homeless man, Dublin John, who died some weeks ago. His mother and sister are bringing his ashes to Cork. Cork Penny Dinners will host a get-together afterwards.