It is with great sadness that Donegal Canoe Club announce the passing of their dear friend Liam Emery who died Wednesday 10 November while out walking with friends.
Since his tragic accident at the Liffey Descent race in September 2008, Liam had come on leaps and bounds from his injuries. He had to literally re-learn who he was, where he lived and how to enjoy life again. With his son Declan he even returned to canoeing by attending the winter pool sessions in Letterkenny. Although at first he could only enjoy the water, he was soon persuaded back into a kayak with our members taking turns to hold the boat to prevent him from capsizing while they walked him around the pool .
When Declan returned to college June and Roisin took turns to collect him on Wednesday nights and bring him to the pool sessions. Soon he was paddling around the pool by himself, but always worried by the thought of tipping over, he asked to be taught to capsize again.
After a few nervous glances as some stood around him in the pool while he turned the kayak upside down, slid his legs out of the boat and surfaced with a proud smile on his face!
Last Wednesday we arranged a small polo competition. June and Mary organised the teams with the idea that Liam would play one half in every team.
As kayak polo can get a little agressive at times he was placed at the goal where he could hang on to the edge of the pool if things got rough.
With the excitement of the game and everyone dressed in paddling gear and helmets with protective face grills, it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s who. The next thing we know someone had broken away with the ball and was heading for the far end goal. The defending team tried to block and one of them slammmed into the attacker, turning the boat upside down and sending the paddler under the water. Pehaps all those years at the hurling where to blame but a chance on goal was too much to ignore. When he surfaced spluttering and coughing we realised with amazement that the attacker was Liam.
The Cork man will be long remembered for his part in our lives. Our thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace.