Exhumation of the body of Ellen Sheehan at Bonaventure Cemetery

A Corkman who spent the last 30 years trying to prove that he was the heir to a multimillion dollar fortune  in the U.S. has died.

Dermot O'Regan, Crookstown, County Cork, died suddenly last Saturday. For the past 30 year Mr O'Regan has wanted his chance to prove with DNA evidence that he is the rightful heir to the fortune of U.S. multimillionaire Mary Ellen Sheehan.

 O'Regan was a respected businessman in his own right having co-founded the company O'Regan Precast.He claimed that he was the only living relative of Ms Sheehan.

Originally the media reported that Ms Sheehan's estate was worth somewhere close to $100 million however it is believed that this figure was hyped up by the U.S. media.

Ms Sheehan died in Savannah, Georgia in 1983. She was a recluse. Her father, William, had made the family fortune investing in property.

Following her death the administrator of the estate published ads in Irish newspapers. Many U.S. and Irish families came forward to claim their fortune. Mr O'Regan lost his case in the U.S. courts. He was trying to prove that he was entitled to Ms Sheehan's fortune.

Mr O'Regan obtained permission to exhume the body of his grandfather, Jeremiah O'Regan in 2004. He was trying to prove that he was the brother of Ellen O'Regan, who married William Sheehan.

Dr Karen Ramey Burns, a U.S. forensic anthropologist from the University of Georgia tested three samples. However all three came back negative. Mr O'Regan continued his battle until his death.

The estate has now been distributed to other claimants.