In a A Man for Everybody: The Story of Bishop Shanahan, he never mentioned feeling lonely … if such feelings existed, they were minimised by the joy of the ordinary things of life: the sun setting quickly behind the forest trees, the full moon shining on the Niger, the beautiful forests and the plains the comfortable babies asleep on their mothers backs. He enjoyed, too, the witty exchanges of the chiefs and the people.
From childhood, it was Joseph Shanahans dream to go to Africa as a missionary. After many trials and setbacks he achieved his goal, and, in the African jungles, a deep and lasting bond was born between the man and his flock. He lived with them, and for them, and came to have a profound respect and warmth for both the people and the land.
To the people in Nigeria a he became a legend – a warm human figure, charismatic and courageous, a revolutionary educator, a pioneering missionary, a holy man. To those left behind in Ireland, too, he was an inspiration – missionaries, both lay and religious were eager to serve with him; he set up a new congregation in Killeshandra, the Holy Rosary Sisters, and set in motion the beginnings of the lay apostolate to Africa.
The Africa that Bishop Shanahan loved so deeply permeates this inspiring account of his life; the jungles and the villages, the dawns and the dusks, the creatures and the people are all brilliantly conveyed.