Joe Sheehan, the Irish American tourist who made headlines after jumping into the River Liffey to save a man on July 19, was flown back to Dublin for an interview last weekend on RTE One’s "Saturday Night with Miriam," and it's fair to say he was in better form than during his previous visit.
Sheehan's belongings were stolen while he was saving the man, but RTE and Samsung have replaced his Samsung Galaxy smartphone and one of his fraternity brothers from the University of Nebraska has set up a fundraising website to replace the money that was taken. We asked Joe a few questions about his experiences in Dublin on his return visit.
IC: So you visited to Dublin again - this time a little drier - for a special appearance on "Saturday Night with Miriam" on RTE One. How did it go?
Joe: The TV appearance went swimmingly. It was an incredible experience to travel to Dublin under such different circumstances. Miriam is an absolute sweetheart and the producers who I worked with, John McMahon and Julia Kennedy, did everything in their power to make the trip as memorable as possible.
And they were kind enough to replace the phone that was stolen from you, were you expecting that?
I wasn’t expecting the new phone from the studio at all. The video of the interview was a second take, though, because a line had been messed up, so technically I know in the video.
A website has been set up to enable people to donate money to replace the cash that was taken from you. People have been so generous that the money raised has skyrocketed past your goal. Do you have any plans for the money?
The fundraising site was an absolutely amazing thing for my brothers in Phi Delta Theta to do for me. I can’t thank them and their families enough for their generosity. I am so floored by random Dubliners donating to the page as well. It is a truly humbling experience to be supported by so many people who I have never even met before. I only remember telling my hometown newspaper about the link and it seems to have spread wildly. I don't want to make any money from this incident so I had my friend Corey, who started the fund, donate the money above the goal to our Fraternity Phi Delta Theta's charity, “ALS in the Heartland,” a non-profit resource of services and support to ALS patients, their families and caregivers throughout Nebraska and western Iowa.
Your heroic act made headlines all over - when you returned to Dublin, did strangers recognize you on the street?
Ironically enough there were people in Dublin who recognized me. The story had gained enough traction that a few people, like my taxi driver and some people at the hotel front desk, had a small moment of recognition. The most striking case of this, though, was after the taping of the show when Hugh, Cathal, and I went out to a nightclub. As I walked in, someone asked rather loudly if I was "the guy who jumped in the Liffey." About six more people had that same moment and all insisted on buying me a drink. There were undoubtedly more who recognized me and bought me drinks, but I can neither confirm nor deny how many of those later drinks I was bought.
And your new friends, Hugh, Cathal and Katie – do you have plans to see them again soon?
Being flown to Dublin for the interview last weekend was the extent of my plans to see Hugh, Cathal, and Katie for the time being, but I would love nothing more than to visit Ireland again and see them and the wonderful city soon. I made it well known to them that if they were ever in the States I would do everything in my power to visit them or give them a place to stay on the off chance they ever decided to visit Nebraska.
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