Lives Lost to Covid 19: Trevor Shiels became a barrister after long career as a garda
Devoted family man was awaiting birth of first grandchild when he became ill
Lives Lost: Trevor Shiels, 1951-2021.
This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. You can read more of them here. If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevor Shiels was many things: a son, a brother, a friend, a friend-turned-boyfriend- turned-husband, a father, a member of An Garda Síochána, a barrister, a concierge, with his next role set to be a grandfather.
“He knew I was having a daughter, that it’d be his first grandchild, but he never got to meet her,” says Laura Shiels, Trevor’s daughter. “He didn’t even know of her birth.”
Born in Dublin city centre in 1951, Trevor had a “humble beginning” as the eldest of three children. In 1977, he joined An Garda Síochána, later becoming a sergeant and ultimately staying for 33 years.
He moved to Artane, married Anne, had two children, Laura and Brian, and – while still in the guards – studied to become a barrister. “He didn’t practice until he retired from the guards,” remembers Laura, but “he was the first one in the family to go to college. It felt pretty cool that it was a law degree.”
On retiring from the law, Trevor then worked in Wickham Park apartments as a concierge. He hadn’t travelled much in life, “or at all really”, says Laura, “but he’d come home from work saying he’d met people from Iran, Denmark, Brazil and he was fascinated by their lives. People would come and just to talk to him. Dad had time for everyone.”
Love of music
Outside of careers, he was interested in almost everything: history, geology, sociology but, above all, music. “He absolutely loved music,” says Laura. “He played guitar, blues and rock, and was quite offended at the fact that I liked hip-hop and modern stuff, but his taste most definitely rubbed off on me.”
In December 2020, Laura was living in New Zealand, married and in her final trimester, about to give birth to her parents’ first grandchild. “Both of my parents had shown symptoms. Dad had underlying conditions but they were well-managed [asthma as a child and a “little heart thing”], and he was brought to hospital as a precaution. Trevor spent the beginning of 2021 on the general ward in the Mater, then on January 10th was sent to ICU and put on a ventilator.
In New Zealand, a heavily pregnant Laura wasn’t told how bad things were. “They were concerned with my being pregnant, that if I knew the truth I’d get a shock and something would happen to the baby.”
“One of the last things he said to my mum was: ‘Do we have a baby yet?’”
By the time Allegra Anne arrived into the world, on January 24th, Trevor’s condition had worsened significantly.
“It’s so hard to describe . . . to give birth, to become a parent and to lose a parent, and for them to not even know she had arrived, or her name. It’s so heartbreaking, it’s like the happiest and saddest time in your life.”
Trevor may not have got to meet his granddaughter, but in testament to his life and how he impacted others, he got a moving goodbye.
“Irish people give incredible send-offs, he got a wonderful one given the circumstances. Former colleagues, neighbours, friends, my friends, the gardaí in Artane gave a guard of honour outside the house on the day of his funeral.”