Requiem for 'inspirational' Corkman lost to channel swim

Mon, Jul 30, 2012, 01:00

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 (45), from Mariner’s View, Passage West, Co Cork, died of a heart attack on July 22nd, 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’s requiem Mass at St Columba’s Church in Douglas, Cork, chief celebrant Fr Tom Hayes said the swimming enthusiast had had a 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 put 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 Mr Casey had 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 him 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 began in the heart of Páraic.”

Among those who gathered to pay tribute were members of the Sandycove Island Swim Club who wore grey club T-shirts, co-workers from Fota Wildlife Park where he worked with the education team, and Cork Symphony Orchestra which provided music for the Mass. Mr Casey was the principal viola player for the orchestra until last year when he took a step back to focus on training for his channel attempt.

Offertory gifts at the 11am Mass included a fiddle signifying Mr Casey’s love of music, a cook book denoting his fondness for all things culinary and a swimming T-shirt he had designed.