Former Real IRA leader Aidan O’Driscoll was laid to rest yesterday, with family and friends pledging he would not be forgotten and thanking his heartbroken fiancée for “turning his life around”, writes Noel Baker.
A huge crowd gathered at Saint Oliver’s Church in Ballyvolane on Cork’s northside to bid farewell to the 37-year-old, who was shot dead in Blackpool on December 7.
Mourners recalled the native of Glenheights Park as a son, a brother, a father, a man engaged to be married to “the love of his life”, and someone who, through his playing and coaching of sport, had played a role in his local community.
Mourners gathered at the church for the requiem Mass, which began with the presentation of symbols: a picture of Aidan with his two children, Saoirse and Chulann; football boots, symbolising his longstanding involvement with local teams — primarily Delaney’s Hurling and Football Club but also Glenthorn Celtic, and Quinlan’s Football Club, where he was manager; and a betting slip.
Aidan’s brother, Mark, thanked several people, including the gardaí and Cork University Hospital staff .
Mark O’Driscoll said his brother had received “bad press” over the years but that in recent times he had turned his life around.
“That was all due to one person,” Mark said, “the love of his life — Marion.”
Marion Ryan was, said Mark, Aidan’s best friend. The couple were engaged to be married, and Mark assured her that both families were now “friends for life”.
Chief celebrant, Fr John O’Donovan, turned the congregation’s attention to the church’s Tree of Remembrance, adorned with the names of parishioners who have passed on. Ms Ryan became the latest to add a card to the tree, one bearing her fiancé’s name.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.