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Lakewood Ranch's Irish Celtic Festival founder dies

Frank Shea, beloved for his countless hours of work to benefit the community, succumbs to cancer at 59.

Francis Shea, who died Jan. 17, founded the Irish Celtic Festival in Lakewood Ranch.
Francis Shea, who died Jan. 17, founded the Irish Celtic Festival in Lakewood Ranch.
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Emilee Gately knew her uncle, Frank Shea, was a stickler when it came to getting things right associated with his Irish heritage.

"He would get on my case whenever I mixed up "Mac" and "Mc," she said. "Uncle Frank always made his Celtic priorities No. 1. He knew everything and anything about Irish heritage."

She also knew he had a huge heart and wanted to share his love of all things Irish with his community of Lakewood Ranch.

Francis Shea Jr., who brought joy to so many with the Irish Celtic Festival he started in 2012, died Jan. 17 from cancer. He was 59.

Besides running the Irish Celtic Festival for Lakewood Ranch Community Activities, he also served as president of the New World Celts in Sarasota and was a member of the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in Lakewood Ranch.

His daughter, Casey Shea of Brooklyn, N.Y., said it always had been his way to give back.

Before moving to Lakewood Ranch in 2005, he enjoyed Irish-themed events living in Boston.

"He did a lot with our schools and my brothers (Bradenton's Ryan and Micheal Shea) were into sports," Casey Shea said. "He coached basketball, raised money for the PTA and was a Boy Scout leader. He cared about where we lived."

His community service increased when he moved to Lakewood Ranch. His daughter said he saw an opportunity to create fun Celtic events in his new home.

"Frank was everything you could ask for in a community volunteer," said Keith Pandeloglou, the director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities. "He had the vision to create one of our largest events, our Irish Celtic Festival and he took ownership of that event. He made sure the community had an event it could be proud of, dedicating many hours of his time to everything from booking performers, to coordinating food vendors to getting the involvement of the organizations it takes to put on a large-scale event."

The last 10 years, Frank Shea worked as a consultant to companies abroad that wanted to sell their wares in the U.S. His son, Micheal said he was proud of his education — high school at Boston Latin School, an undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a graduate degree from Boston College.

In Lakewood Ranch, he lived in the Moorings at Edgewater with his wife of 35 years, Lynn.

Lynn Shea said some of the family's best times were attending Irish parades in the Boston area.

Frank Shea also had talked with his daughter about a special trip.

"We always talked about stopping in pubs in the Dingle Peninsula," she said. "My dad was in love with Ireland as long as I can remember. He always has telling his Irish stories. I never got to go with my dad to Ireland."

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 25 at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in Lakewood Ranch and a Celebration of Life will follow on Jan. 25 at Bayfront Park, 316 N. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria. It will run from 1 p.m. to sunset.

For more information on services, go to

"It's been overwhelming to see how many people knew my dad here," Casey Shea said. "I've had so many messages from the New World Celts, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities and the Knights.

"He just tried to make everyone's day brighter."


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