Donal McManus, who died in 2005 was a man of many talents, especially of a sporting nature. He was a former playing member, and medal winner, with the Lisnaskea Emmets seniors GAA club in the late 80’s. He worked as a builder and before that as a farmer. Donal had a degree in construction engineering and unknown to many, also held a doctorate (Ph.D) in the same discipline
. A great card player, Donal had a phenomenal memory and won a bridge competition with his father while only 17 years old.
After his father’s death in 1981, Donal ran the family farm and took on responsibility for a lot of building and drainage projects. Having run the farm for almost 15 years, he went back to college in the University of Ulster and quietly worked his way from a diploma to a degree and then Phd course.
‘Brendan McManus’s profoundly moving memoir of his journey to wholeness and healing after his brother’s suicide is a standout. He takes the reader along on a physical pilgrimage, but also on a remarkable journey of reconciliation, grace and, ultimately, peace. Redemption Road moved me deeply, and I’m proud of my brother Jesuit for sharing with us his honest and heartfelt story.’
– Editor of America magazine and author of several award-winning books, James Martin SJ, Jesuit priest
Donal was extremely versatile and able to turn his hand to anything including a great passion for football, great faith (‘his bible was the most used book in the house’), putting that faith into action for others’ benefit, organisational skills, a keen sense of humour and, finally, his work in a Colombian orphanage for special needs’ children (2003). In the years before his death he had renovated a number of houses on the main street in Lisnaskea and as landlord, leased these out to a number of locals. He would go to great lengths to help others in need and unselfishly gave freely of his own time and resources (several stories on this theme are recounted in the book).
Donal had an ability to connect with and motivate young people. As a leader in the local youth club, Donal coached several underage teams in his home town. The Lisnaskea Emmets Club comented after his death: “Donal was not only a former player, but he also managed various teams. He was exceptionally well-liked and respected and will be fondly remembered”.
At his funeral Mass, symbols reflecting aspects of Donal’s life were brought up to the altar. They included a bible, a football, work boots, a Colombian cross (he had worked in Bogota with under-privileged children) and his Ph.D thesis. The Psalm that day was, ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd’, a favourite of Donal.