Hundreds pay tribute to popular fisherman
'MY FATHER'S SPIRIT will linger in The Coalyard, because that was his idea of heaven,' Shane O'Connor told the many mourners at his father Michael's funeral in Carrigon-Bannow.
However, Shane pointed out that his father will not be there alone. He will have his brother Ronnie for company, the pair fishing Ballyteigue Bay together.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Church of Mary Immaculate and St Joseph last Friday morning to say a sad, final farewell to Michael O'Connor (59), of Coalyard Lane, Cooleskin, Duncormick.
Michael's remains were recovered from the water close to his home by the Coastguard on Tuesday morning of last week. The alarm was raised by his wife Joan after he failed to return home from his fishing trip in the early hours of the morning, as planned. His brother Ronnie (44) had died in similar circumstances just over five years earlier, on August 31, 2005.
Fr James Kehoe extended his sympathy to Michael's family, particularly Joan and their three children; Shane, Mikey and Grace.
He said Michael's death was 'a terrible blow for the family' and that the manner of his passing was 'so sudden, so tragic, taken away in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye'.
He hoped that the support of family and friends would offer Michael's beloved family some encouragement and strength. ' Ni neart go cur le cheile,' said Fr Kehoe.
The uniforms of Good Counsel College, where Mikey is a Leaving Cert student, and St Mary's Secondary School, where Grace has just started first year, were dotted throughout the church. Shane has just started third level in UCD.
Fr Kehoe reflected on Michael's love of the sea and said his 'skin, hard from the sea' was evident in the photo on the avid fisherman's coffin. ' The same sea was so cruel to take him away from the family home,' said Fr Kehoe.
Paying tribute to his father prior to his removal for burial in Rathangan Cemetery, Shane pointed out that there was not enough time to explain how much he meant to so many people.
However, he said that the three things in life that meant the most to him were his beloved Joan, his three children and his brothers and sisters.
Shane spoke about Michael's love for Joan first. 'Since they met they adored each other and he would do anything for her,' he said, adding that his father said his dream of moving home to The Coalyard from England after 25 years wouldn't have been realised without her.
Shane also spoke of his father's love for his younger siblings, Mikey and Grace. He said that Grace was her father's ' little princess' and he was extremely proud of her. She accompanied him everywhere, including fishing on many occasions.
He spoke of his father and Mikey's shared love of sports and the banter that would come from this, with the pair rarely agreeing on anything!
Michael was one of 13 children and Shane pointed out how much he loved his brothers and sisters, always enjoying the singing and the craic at family get-togethers.
The night before his fateful fishing trip, Shane recalled how his father had driven him to UCD to get ' settled in', while ' shouting at the Sat Nav the whole way'.
He said that technology and his father never really got along and Michael had told him that with his good Leaving Cert he should be able to invent a phone that didn't involve walking half way down the garden to get a signal!
Shane said it was ' a terrible tragedy to lose such an enigmatic and caring man' and 'a great father who would make any sacrifice for his family'. He said that his father would always find the silver lining in a situation, no matter how obscure, and he would want those he left behind to remember the many good times they shared.
He said he will be joined there by his brother Ronnie, at whose funeral Michael had spoken five years earlier. Shane ended his heartfelt tribute to his father in a similar fashion as Michael had bid farewell to his brother: ' Tight lines dad, we will love and miss you forever'.