|13 Jul 2022|
The Clongowes Union is saddened to hear of the unexpected death of James (Jim) Costello following a short illness. He will be sadly missed by his loving wife Delia (née Donovan), sisters Muriel, Denise, and Ann, brother Gerard (OC'58), and his classmates from the Rhetoric class of 1960.
James was the second recipient of the Clongowes Union Alumnus of the Year which was presented to him in 2016. He was a 15-year-old schoolboy in Clongowes when he contracted polio in 1958. He developed upper-body paralysis, which severely compromised his lung function and left him without the use of his arms.
After leaving Clongowes James spent much of his life in the polio unit of Cherry Orchard Fever Hospital in Dublin and was the last surviving patient in that unit. He was also the last man in Ireland to still be reliant on an iron lung to do his breathing for him.
Despite these massive challenges, James managed to run the family retail business, dabble in property speculation, co-own a restaurant, and sustain both a successful relationship with his partner Delia for over 20 years and a passion for rugby as a member of Greystones Rugby Club. Following his retirement, James worked tirelessly as a founding member of the Post Polio Support Group which supports survivors who are affected by the late effects of polio – a second and debilitating condition that is affecting people many years after their original polio diagnosis.
Although James’s condition was often more severe than those whom he supported and encouraged, his incredible strength of character and positive attitude to life made him an inspirational figure and the very embodiment of an iron will.
James Costello’s extraordinary story was the subject of a ‘Would You Believe?’ program on RTÉ Television in 2005
There was also a feature on him in ‘The Irish Times, which you may read here.
Funeral arrangements and book of condolences here