Young Islanders’ stalwart John ‘always shot from the hip’
ON Monday, October 2, the death at the age of 85 occurred peacefully and surrounded by his family of John Shanahan of The Farm, Farranreigh, Valentia Island.
A lifelong member of the Pioneer Association, he worked the family farm in Farranreigh, was a water maintenance employee of Kerry County Council and, though a private and reserved man who shunned the limelight and preferred to keep in the background of the social scene, he made a huge impact on all aspects dear to Island life
This was very well illustrated by the guards of honour accorded to him by Valentia Young Islanders GAA Club, the South Kerry GAA Board, Valentia RNLI and the Valentia Seine boat oarsmen.
John Shanahan, Vice-President of Valentia GAA Club at the time of his passing, played on the Valentia Young Islanders team that won the South Kerry senior football championship in 1957 by defeating Renard. This was a watershed victory as it ended a famine and heralded a golden era in Valentia football, right through to 1964. Only five of that team now survives. As goalkeeper, he won South Kerry senior football championships in this era and also played with South Kerry. During the sixties he won Seine boat races with Valentia and rowed in the renowned Shamrock boat.
The Valentia Young Islanders’ footballers enjoyed another golden era from 1979 through the eighties and the early nineties. He became a selector for a number of years in the eighties and was a huge sideline presence. His voice could be heard in the four corners of the field as he paraded the sideline exhorting and encouraging his players to better effort.
In local GAA parlance, he was referred to simply as ‘Shanahan’. He shot from the hip, did not suffer fools gladly and did not shun the tough decision. In those halcyon days of Valentia football he was very much his own man.
John and his family were, and are, Young Islanders to the marrow. The Shanahans are dedicated, loyal and committed Kerry and Valentia Young Islanders people.
Young Islanders GAA always meant the world to them. They are one of the staunchest Valentia Young Islanders GAA families to ever exist. His wife Eileen has been and is selling lotto tickets for years. His daughter Mary is a former club secretary and his son John is a former Kerry Junior and South Kerry footballer who served as a Kerry U21 selector.
In a long career, though now very much a veteran, John continues to play with the Young Islanders just to maintain dwindling numbers in an emigration decimated club.
The Young Islanders formed a guard of honour outside the GAA grounds in Chapeltown for the arrival of the remains. It walked beside the hearse from the Cable Station to the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Knightstown and, after the Requiem Mass, also walked with the hearse from his home in Shanahan’s Cross to Kilmore Graveyard.
After Mass in Knightstown celebrated by Fr Gerard Finucane of Waterville and Fr Larry Kelly of Cahirsiveen, John Shanahan was laid to rest on a quiet sunny October day in Kilmore Graveyard over looking his farm and the serene and beautiful Valentia Harbour. Sincere condolences to his wife Eileen, son John, daughters Mary and Colette, daughter-in-law Emma, grand-children Kara, Casey and Amy Rose, sisters Joan and Josephine, nieces, nephews, brother-in-law and all relatives and friends concerned.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.