Our son, Seán, was buried yesterday. We are told that it was the largest funeral in the parish in living memory. A guard of honour was provided by my daughter’s (and Sean’s former) school. The choir sang … I had picked the hymns. A rugby ball, his camera and a Bob Marley poster were brought up to the altar to represent his interests. After communion, I addressed the congregation briefly to thank everyone for their marvellous support and to tell Sean’s friends that my wife and I care about them, and that they will always be welcome in our house.
His coffin was carried across the road to the cemetery, where men from our road had dug his grave by hand … a local tradition. After the formalities, Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ was played on an iPod or some such, as we had requested. We and his friends sang along with Bob, and cried. A long queue formed for people to offer us their sympathy. I have never been hugged so much in my life.
Everyone went to the local pub, where tables had been laid out and soup, sandwiches, cake, tea, coffee, etc. were laid on. I had a few beers for the first time since Sean’s death, and spoke to many people who had travelled from all over the country and farther afield. His friends told funny stories about Sean, and so did we.
Ever since the news first started to spread on Sunday, the help, support and sheer love we have received from our community have been phenomenal. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have passed through our house to pay their respects. Everything was taken care of … the dogs were taken away and minded (we got them back today); traffic was directed on the road, proper signage erected and parking and lighting provided in the adjacent field; a team of people served tea, coffee, soup, sandwiches, cake, salads and hot meals virtually around the clock. My black shoes (actually Sean’s) were taken away, polished and brought back.
We know now that when we moved out of Dublin 12 years ago, we came to the right place.
One story about Sean from a friend who considers him a brother … Sean was staying at the friend’s house in Roscommon when there was snow on the ground. Around midnight or later they went out in the garden and built a snowman. The friend’s little sister started a snowball fight with Sean, and Sean was laughing so loudly that he woke up all the neighbours. Lights started to be turned on in the houses all around, and neighbours went out into their gardens and built snowmen too.