Shane was the oldest of the 5 children of John & Mary Hall, 2 boys, 3 girls, all born in Dublin. From about the age of 11 Shane began playing chess and continued to do so throughout the rest of his life. He was a serious and studious boy with a sharp sense of humour along with a kind hearted nature. He supported Chelsea F.C but due to serious asthma he did not participate in sports activities much, he loved to read, build Airfix models and watch Dr.Who during his youth.
His family moved to Galway, on the West coast of Ireland, where Shane completed his secondary school education. He joined the FCA (Irish equivalent of the TA) for 5 years, during which time he specialised in Communications at which he excelled.
Having always been a talented artist, when he left school he pursued this gift by studying Graphic Design at Galway Regional Technical College. It was at this time that Shane’s eyesight began to noticeably deteriorate – it had always been poor, as a boy he was both colour blind and had night blindness, but at this point, following an examination by an ophthalmologist, Shane was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. This led to the end of his college course and a change in his career plans while he tried to find an alternative profession that would be minimally affected by his deteriorating vision.
Following some periods where he was employed as a stock controller and other roles in commerce, he went to Sligo where he was trained as a switchboard operator/telephonist. Shane never felt particularly fulfilled by his work as a switchboard operator but his salary allowed him to enrol in further education, to travel, to play chess and pursue his other interests. Each year Shane travelled to chess tournaments all over Ireland as well as, once or twice a year, travelling to the U.K to tournaments in Solihull and Windermere.
Shane lived independently in various parts of Dublin throughout his life, in the last 10 years settling in the centre of Dublin City in the Iveagh Trust flats, where, by coincidence, his grandparents had lived when we were children. He was very happy there, surrounded by wonderful caring neighbours who always kept an eye on him and considered him to be a gentleman in every respect.
Shane was a member of the walking club branch of the Irish Blind Sports Association and also participated in their 10-pin bowling tournaments, winning several medals and trophies for his skill with a bowling ball.
He loved to sing and took singing lessons for several years with a classical music voice coach in the hopes of improving his voice and extending his repertoire beyond his 3 favourite songs – Santa Lucia, Molly Malone and Patricia the Stripper. Any of you who ever attended an event that included an entertainment evening may recall Shane’s enthusiastic offers to provide a song or 3 to his fellow chess tournament attendees.
Shane had been studying Computer Technology for several years as a part-time student in DCU and had always hoped that he would gain this qualification so that he could change his career to something that he both enjoyed and was stimulated by. What is a daunting subject for anyone, was made even more challenging for Shane as he had to learn it using Braille (even for the most complex of mathematical sections) and having to use new computer technology for learning, constantly changing as the years of his course went on – at the same time as the university was struggling to provide sufficient assistance to its part-time disabled students. These challenges never put Shane off and, just before he died, Shane had submitted one of his last assignments for his course.
Shane’s great love throughout his life was chess. He loved, not just the game, but also the society of fellow chess players. Always good naturedly competitive, Shane went so far as to join rival chess clubs so that he could play more and improve his abilities. Michael Crow was his chess coach for many years and his cherished friend, who encouraged Shane to always strive to improve, to innovate, to learn, to win and to do his best.
This year, at Lake Windermere, Shane participated in an exhibition match where a GM played all the tournament chess players simultaneously. In recent years no-one had beaten the GM or gained a draw but this year, Shane emerged victorious. Although he was quite modest about this at the time, upon his return from the U.K, he was clearly ecstatic – all his hard work over the years had paid off.
I like to think that this was a great high point at which to exit this life. His college assignment deadline met and to have beaten the GM at Windermere, looking forward to another trip to the UK and getting closer to his goal of completing his college course.
Although he had several serious health problems in recent years, he never allowed them to interfere with the pursuit of his passions or dreams. Unless he was in hospital, Shane never missed a chess match or event, never missed a RP Society meeting or fund-raising commitment he had made. Shane passed away peacefully in his sleep at home on March 14th, nearly 2 months after his U.K trip.
He is sadly missed by his family, his friends, his colleagues and his many chess mates. He will always be a beloved inspiration to us all for demonstrating how to live life with courage, enthusiasm, generosity, friendliness and love.
No doubt he is playing chess with the Grandest Master of them all and entertaining heaven with his musical talents. May he rest in peace after a life well lived.
Karen Hall, Shane’s sister