It was always fun with Luke
Never did any of us realise what was in store for us when we discovered we were to work with Luke Savage. Two howaya’s from Cranmore and a Deise buck, none of us farmers, GAA fans, was certainly a mixture that I’m sure he didn’t expect to be sent to him but after a tirade of jibing (which went on for 3 years in one case) he got on with.
Graced with more personality than any one body should be asked to store and more life than most experience in ten lifetimes Luke Savage was armed and dangerous.
There was a light in his eyes, an air of devilment that we knew would, or could not be quenched no matter what. Regardless of the fact that he was given a suit that didn’t quite fit him properly he got on with it. Within days we realised he knew everyone in the IT, from Maggie and the girls in the canteen, to lecturing staff, to Brady the poor chaplain who’s only flaw in Luke’s eyes was he was born in Roscommon, the cleaners, the maintenance staff, students.
Everywhere we went he was greeted with a loud and warm ‘well Lukey’ to which the customary ‘Howya, Howya, Howya’ was always the response. To those who he hadn’t met before there was the introductory interview, ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘Are you a farmer?’ when the answer was Donegal or God forbid Mayo he’d throw his eyes to heaven and drive off shaking his head and uttering things I’m sure shouldn’t be mentioned here, only to turn around with hand outstretched to greet his new friend.
The consummate charmer, he had a fondness for the girls, didn’t matter shape or colour as long as they were up for the craic, he kissed every outstretched hand, thankfully, rather than reaching down and grabbing somewhere else, which sometimes he would have preferred, but the gentleman in him always came through, at the start at least.
We thought we’d lived, we thought we knew a thing or two but boy were we wrong and in time we were to discover just how good a teacher Luke was to be. He had a way of just entering your life and becoming an intricate part of it. He knew our families and friends, whether it be ringing our parents for a chat and a laugh or hanging out with tattoo artists, musicians and mad men, Luke had a way of fitting in a drawing everyone to him.
And they all loved him.
Headstrong and determined are just two of the many words we could use to describe him. He wasn’t disabled, he had some extra machinery, sometimes that machinery left an indelible mark long after he left. I’m sure O Neills and the Leitrim will be delighted they can finally get the decorators in, knowing the scratches on the wall won’t re-appear.
The red carpet treatment was the only way he rolled, whether it was the bouncers in the Leitrim or Toffs clearing a path for him to get close to the action, or celebrities like Packie Bonner, Michael O Muiraheartigh or Marty Morrissey, Michael D, Mary McAleese, Martin McGuinness or Gerry Adams being brought over for private audiences (with in the words of Morrissey himself) ‘The Legend Luke Savage’ people always made him feel special, because that he was.
And in return they got their own peculiar Lukeism. I don’t think anyone who was around will forget Marty Morrissey’s face when he told him Clare hadn’t a hope in the hurling.
We went everywhere with him, Conferences, gigs, balls, pubs, pole dancing and parties, even mass and on the odd occasion Knock. The favourite will always be the GAA matches in Sligo, Roscommon and our last outing in Galway, that special day when Sligo made the comeback to end all comebacks.
When they scored the first goal he jumped out of the chair so fast we shouted at him to sit down before the County Board thought he was faking his disability and took the pass off him. On to Salthill after for a ‘leg of fish’ and a pint in the Polish bar (where he was more interested in the quality of porter than the soccer), a wander round by the Mumford and Sons gig and then off on the road home.
Crazy looking back, coming to the Garda checkpoint we asked him to act disabled in case Garda on duty didn’t quite believe the wheelchair pass was genuine and he duly obliged.
He brought people together, he loved everyone equally. If you were in with Luke, you were very much in. If you weren’t, well you hadn’t met him. There were lives he touched in ways no one could begin to describe, there were people who did so much to give him the sense of independence and belonging he strove for.
The guys in the students union, particularly Leechy, Breffine and P Ryan who went along with a hair brained idea to give him a work placement, which turned into the greatest joy for Luke. From them he gained a sense of purpose that he gave his all too, and an identity which he valued so, so much. I’m sure in hindsight Gerry would have preferred for the free tea clause in his ‘contract’ to be omitted.
He was the perfect ambassador for the union, he knew everyone, made everyone feel welcome and special and we all know one hour of Luke Savage wearing your election t-shirt around the canteen and you were in.
He acted all the time like he didn’t care but those who knew him knew he cared way too much.
He gave of himself to everyone. Whether it was a hug or a prayer in times of need, a supporting phone call when things weren’t going so well or trying to heal rifts between people that mattered to him he was constantly thinking of others. Looking back it was just a part of who he was. But a part so many people are grateful for.
It was never work, well except on the odd occasion he had to do an assignment or prepare for an exam. To call it work would have taken away from the experience of sharing a day with him, detract from the many things he taught us.
Who knew we’d end up knowing so much about sheep and silage and just how many different types of tractor there were and that the Sawdoctors were actually good. But there was more, he taught us determination and honesty and gratitude, not to mention the importance of bowing to your first pint of porter.
He wanted to try things and we helped him, he needed legs and arms, he had ours. In return he gave so much more. He gave us his love and loyalty, outrageous fun and stories that we can tell for years to come. It was always shared the time, the fun, the daftness. It was a journey that knew no boundaries and restriction, a story that will continue to unfold for some time yet. A story we all feel so privileged to have played a small part in and a journey which I guess we’ll still carry you with us.
What Luke did was take us, three individuals and make us a team, make us friends, make us want to be better at what we do, who we are, and not for any other reason than it’s just the right way to live. You set the standard and then you raised the bar and those still here travelling have a legacy to live up to, that maybe we might never reach, but feck it lad we’ll do our best.
With Luke it was fun, it was always fun and for that we’re so grateful. Guess there’s only one thing left to say. Love ya bro.
Mark, Damien and Frank
(Luke’s Personal Assistants)
Luke Savage was full of life
Luke came to live in Abbey View, Cheshire Ireland in April 2009.
A young man full of life who touched the hearts of everyone who were fortunate to meet him,
Within a few days of Luke moving into his apartment he became the life and soul of the building, although he had a physical disability he never let it stop him living a life of his own choosing, because to Luke his disability was what he had not what he was.
Anyone that knew Luke will know of his love for Gaelic football, and the pride he had for his county.
He loved farming and in particular, was very prude of his sheep; we all lived through the visit to the vet, the scans of the twin lambs and their births, also the making of the silage and his obsession with tractors. He grow his own vegetables cabbage and spuds his favourite food,
Luke was a very social person and loved going to the local pubs and night clubs where he enjoyed a few glasses of Guinness or Baileys,
Luke had just finished his second year in S.I.T where he studied business, we were all very pleased when he passed his exams on the 18th of June
Luke inspirer so many people to live life to the full, he was indeed a larger than life character, he will be sadly missed but will live in our hearts forever
From everyone in Abbey View
Luke represented ideals Air Corp charity adventure project was founded on
The first time I ran into Luke, was literally the first of many times he ran over me on the grounds of the Sligo Cheshire home. This was when we at the Cheshire Adventure Motivation Project (C.A.M.P) had brought the mobile adventure camp or (mini camp) up to Sligo Cheshire and it was there I got to witness the unstoppable force that was cleverly disguised as a young disabled man who was locally known as Luke Savage.
Our group was set up nearly 25 years ago by members of the Irish Air Corps and the Cheshire Foundation to motivate and enable people with high levels of physical disabilities through the use of outbound adventure activities. On our camps we strive to create an environment where everyone is the same, there is no ‘’them and us’’ and it’s ok to fail because you won’t the next time. In Luke we found a young man eager to push himself and those around him.
For him, there was never enough time in the day to try new things and most importantly when he did they were always on his terms and of course with that smile. He reminded me that what we do should not be the exception but the rule and for a young man who overcame so much in his life Luke showed me that it’s not what you do but how you get there, that’s where the real learning is accomplished.
When Luke was awarded ‘’the Colm Sherry’’ trophy last September by our group, it was in recognition for the courage and sheer will he displayed after completing a six day camp. (I’d like to note we don’t hand out certificates for doing five.)
We are so very proud of him not just for his achievements in winning the trophy and what he contributed to us but because Luke represented the very ideals our charity was founded on. We will all miss him greatly, his razor sharp wit, his special right handed salute and of course his humanity. Personally I feel humbled that such an exceptional human being thought of me as his friend when in truth I’m the one that’s been blessed to have known him.
Cheshire Adventure Motivation Project.