By Olivia Kelleher

The brother of a homeless man who died in Cork city earlier this month has said his sibling was a “gentle soul” who had on occasion been kicked on the street by young people as he tried to sleep in a doorway outside a store on Washington Street.

Father of one Paul Sheehan (53) was found dead on the street on Wandesford Quay near the city centre by a garda at about 7am on March 18. He was physically frail and walked with two sticks.

His brother, Gerard, told the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM that whatever the official cause of death Paul ultimately passed away from alcoholism. He said Paul had been turned away from two hotels and four guesthouses in the weeks before his death presumably because he was perceived to be homeless.

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He paid tribute to the trojan work of Penny Dinners food service in Cork city centre who gave Paul a lot of respect when he went in to eat there on an almost daily basis.

Caitriona (Twomey) of Penny Dinners was the only place he would go because he was shown respect. He was helped. He would go to Caitriona (of Penny Dinners) and she would get a bed for him in a guest house. Penny Dinners was the only place he knew he was safe. He was a respectful man. Thank god drink never took that from him.

Gerard said the family made every effort to check on Paul and that they often drove the streets for hours looking for him. Family members were combing the streets searching for him the night he died.

The Sheehan family offered every assistance to him they could and he was in rehab on number of occasions. He used to sleep in a doorway on Washington Street but Gerard says he started to have problems there because people abused him.

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 hurted anyone in his life.

Gerard who said it was heartbreaking to see his younger brother dead on the street.

“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.”

Gerard said Paul often had his dole stolen from him because he was vulnerable on the streets. He added that unfortunately Paul was taken over by alcoholism at a very young age and that he was the nearest thing you had to a “hopeless case.”

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. He was the quietest young fella you ever met in all your life. He was introduced to drink at an early age. He was addicted to drink very young.

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.”

Paul Sheehan was originally from St Mary’s Avenue in Cathedral Road in Cork city. He is survived by a son and his brothers and sisters. His funeral took place last Wednesday at the North Cathedral Church.

The Sheehan family say they are appreciative of the support of friends and neighbours following their sudden bereavement.



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