THE FAMILY of a popular Irishman who died after being struck by a speeding driver have paid an emotional tribute to him.
In a statement, the family of John Francis 'Frank' Heneghan, 72, revealed how he supported his local communities in Britain and Ireland through charitable work and by organising sporting and cultural events.
Such was the esteem in which he was held, hundreds of people turned out for memorial services for Mr Heneghan on both sides of the Irish Sea following his tragic death in 2017.
Despite his popularity and being 'a mentor and teacher to many', paramount to everything else for Mr Heneghan was his family, with the Mayo native doting on his children and grandchildren while being close to his siblings and their children.
"Family was the most important thing to him, and he saw his children and grandchildren on a daily basis right up until his death," said his family.
In their moving tribute to his life, Mr Heneghan's family revealed how he lived life to the full, becoming a much-loved community stalwart after growing up in poverty, by way of a proud meeting with President John F. Kennedy.
'Encouraged and inspired'
"John 'Frank' Heneghan was a former farmer, builder and publican. He had retired shortly before his untimely death in 2017 at the age of 72," read the tribute.
"He was a loving husband, married to his wife Derry for 42 years. Devoted to his wife, he nursed her through a long illness before her death in 2012.
"A father of four, he was always warm and affectionate with his children, and always encouraged and inspired them to be the best they could be.
"He was a doting grandfather and loved spending time with his seven grandchildren, making them laugh and telling them stories.
"His own father had died when he was just 13 and he grew up as one of the eldest of a family of 14 brothers and sisters in poverty in the West of Ireland.
"As a young man he was a member of the Irish Army Band and one of his proudest moments was shaking President John F. Kennedy's hand after he played for him on his arrival to Shannon Airport in 1963.
"He was actively involved in sport, playing non-league football for Feltham FC in the sixties and founding a football team in his hometown of Kilmaine, in Co. Mayo, Ireland when he returned to live there in the seventies.
"The team still exists to this day and there has been a cup established in his name.
'A kind and gentle man'
"Family was the most important thing to him, and he saw his children and grandchildren on a daily basis right up until his death.
"He was also close to his brothers and sisters, and nephews and nieces, meeting them all a number of times a year in the UK and in Ireland.
“Throughout his life he was a mentor and teacher to many, through work and in his sporting life and he was actively involved in charity work, establishing a musical tour in the west of Ireland that took place every summer and raised money for many local charities.
"Hundreds attended his funerals, one held in London and one in his hometown and the streets were lined with mourners.
"Frank had a good wit and a generous nature and was loved by everyone who knew him.
"His family and friends were all devastated by the cruel loss when he was killed.
"All we are left with are our memories of a kind and gentle man who worked hard, treated everyone with respect, was funny and charming and had a roguish twinkle in his eye.
"The defendant in this case has behaved in a contemptible and appalling manner throughout.
"For five long years he has constantly lied and lied and has never once shown any sliver of remorse for killing our dad.
"He has put us through hell. First by callously killing our dad Frank and then by constantly lying and offering not even a word of sympathy or remorse.
“Well today this evil, selfish man has finally been brought to justice."