From my earliest years at home in Drimoleague my brothers and I slept under a ceiling of gloss-painted ceiling boards. That part of the house was added on in the 1950s when my father Sean was planning on getting married.

His father, Jacky, had purchased the house and lands belonging to a neighbouring family who had moved to Clonakilty from Clashduve, Drimoleague. My father used to recall how Con Lehane had loaded up what he wanted to take on a horse and cart and headed for Clonakilty, stopping in Ballygurteen for tea on the way.

In the days when land was considered more useful than an extra house, my grandfather and his family stripped most of the timbers out of the Lehane house and used these as building materials for the extension to their own house. That’s where the ceiling boards for our bedroom came from. Hence, I spent a lot of nights staring up at Lehane ceiling boards in my youth.

Poignantly, when my father was in nursing home care at Mount Carmel hospital in Clonakilty many years later, one of the kind nurses taking care of him was one of Con Lehane’s daughters. She was one of 12 Lehane children.

I got to know another member of the family while I lived in Bandon Parish. Denis Lehane had moved to Bandon when he fell in love with Noreen Spillane after they met through Macra na Feirme. Both of them loved farming and together they settled into Noreen’s home-place just north of Bandon and gave life to a new Lehane family.

Sadly, Denis fell foul of cancer and his funeral was held in Bandon this week. I was happy that I was able to concelebrate his funeral Mass which must have been attended by half the people of West Cork. As his daughter Norienne recounted in the church, Denis’ full life touched so many people in so many positive ways.

Denis Lehane, Chairperson of Bandon Parish Pastoral Council, making a presentation to Fr. Tom Hayes of a painting by Deirdre Crowley to mark his leaving Bandon parish in 2010. (Photo Tadhg Spillane).

When I moved to Enniskeane Parish, Denis arrived out one day with a trailer load of timber he had personally split and bagged and loaded up for me. He came out and piled it into the stable so that I’d have firing for the winter.

It was the second time in my life that I would be protected from the elements by timber supplied by the Lehane family.

May Denis’ kind soul find a warm place in the Kingdom of the Lord.