Funerals take place of two Limerick men who lost their lives in separate drowning tragedies

Funerals take place of two Limerick men who lost their lives in separate drowning tragedies
Pictured l-r: Christopher Leo and Niall Gibbons.

By David Raleigh

Two Limerick men - who drowned in two separate incidents in recent days - have been remembered at their funeral masses as unique, loving, and free-spirited.

In a touching tribute, well-known Limerick bagpiper, Christopher Leo senior, played a haunting lament on his pipes while leading his son, Christopher juniors coffin, from the church to his grave.

The 44-year old father of one, known to friends and family as "Kippy", died June 30th in a tragic accident in the River Shannon, having gone for a swim with pals, near his home in St Mary’s Park, known locally as The Island.

Family friend, Very Rev Noel Kirwan, told mourners at St John’s Cathedral the “summer had turned sour” for the entire community.

“Those of us who grew up on The Island, grew up with a love of the bank around the river, and a love of the river itself, swimming in the river and (going) out on the boats and all the rest of that,” Fr Kirwan said.

“But, I can remember so many years that the summer would turn sour because someone we knew and cared about from our community was taken by the river.”

“It shook us every time.”

“It always came with deep sorrow and deep sadness that the river had claimed, once again, one of our own,” he added.

Mr Leo was remembered by his family for his caring nature and his love of dancing and music.

Funeral of Christopher Leo at St John's Cathedral, Limerick. Pic: Press 22.
Funeral of Christopher Leo at St John's Cathedral, Limerick. Pic: Press 22.

Fr Kirwan raised laughter from those gathered and joked: “St Joseph is putting back the chairs tonight because he is going to be dancing with the best break-dancer in Limerick.”

“Remember him as he was, that freedom to dance, to dance like no one is watching.”

There were also poignant scenes as Niall Gibbons - whose body was located June 27th, two days after he went missing while swimming with friends, off Long Beach, New York - was remembered at a special funeral mass prior to being cremated at a private family gathering.

Mr Gibbon’s only sibling, Sharon Gibbons, told the hundreds packed into Our Lady Help of Christians her brother was “the most amazing human I have ever known”

Mr Gibbons, from Castletroy, and known affectionately as “Gibbs”, was taken by the thing which he loved best, his sister said.

“He loved the beach - Long Beach in particular - but more than anything Niall loved people.”

“He loved unconditionally, accepting every person as they are - He made you feel like the only person in the room.”

Pictured at the funeral of Niall Gibbons from Castletroy, Limerick who died unexpectedly in New York. The funeral mass took place at Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Milford, Limerick. Pic: Press 22.
Pictured at the funeral of Niall Gibbons from Castletroy, Limerick who died unexpectedly in New York. The funeral mass took place at Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Milford, Limerick. Pic: Press 22.

Ms Gibbons thanked her brother’s friends “for raising the alarm” on the night he went missing in the awater.

She also thanked, on behalf of her parents Ray and Maria, US emergency services for their “professionalism, efficiency, communication, compassion and warmth”.

She also praised members of the Long Beach Police Department “who were in the water within minutes” searching for Mr Gibbons, as well as members of the US Coast Guard for their “extensive land air and sea search” for her brother.

“They literally moved heaven and earth to find Niall, and for that we are eternally grateful.”

Niall Gibbon’s mother, Maria, left mourners in tears as she sang a tribute to her son entitled “Niall’s Way”.

Mr Gibbons’ family requested family flowers only and, if desired, donations to be made to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which Ms Gibbons said had been “instrumental in bringing our boy home”.

More on this topic

Talks ongoing in licence dispute between Limerick FC and FAITalks ongoing in licence dispute between Limerick FC and FAI

Tributes paid on passing of 'brilliant' advocate for carers of dementia sufferers, Rachel McMahonTributes paid on passing of 'brilliant' advocate for carers of dementia sufferers, Rachel McMahon

A 'real true love story': Couple married for more than 53 years die within days of each otherA 'real true love story': Couple married for more than 53 years die within days of each other

Motorcyclist killed in Co Limerick collision named as gardaí appeal for witnessesMotorcyclist killed in Co Limerick collision named as gardaí appeal for witnesses


More in this Section

Burke confident Cork office vandalism not connect to theft of election postersBurke confident Cork office vandalism not connect to theft of election posters

Drug gangs targeting secondary schools in Limerick, claims FF election candidateDrug gangs targeting secondary schools in Limerick, claims FF election candidate

Gardaí refuse to comment as Michael Healy-Rae claims he had assurances from 'senior garda' on election fundraising permitGardaí refuse to comment as Michael Healy-Rae claims he had assurances from 'senior garda' on election fundraising permit

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre disappointed at delay in specifying 'revenge porn' as offence as judge grants protection order to victimDublin Rape Crisis Centre disappointed at delay in specifying 'revenge porn' as offence as judge grants protection order to victim


Lifestyle

SECOND Captains is one of the long-running success stories in Irish podcasting. Ostensibly a sports show led by Eoin McDevitt, Ken Early, and Ciarán Murphy, the former Off The Ball team from Newstalk launched the podcast in mid-2013. two Monday shows are offered for free, with Tuesday-Friday behind a Patreon subscriber model and dubbed ‘The World Service’. It has more than 11,500 subscribers.Podcast Corner: First-class podcasts from Second Captains

The incredible life of Ireland’s first celebrity chef has been turned into a play, writes Colette SheridanHow Maura Laverty cooked up a storm

Their paths first crossed on the top floor of the library at University College Cork in October 2010 when both were students there so Amy Coleman and Steven Robinson were delighted to retrace their footsteps on their big day.Wedding of the Week: College sweethearts open new chapter

Peter Dowdall reveals why all roads will lead to Tullow in County Carlow on February 1Snowdrop patrol: Why all roads will lead to County Carlow

More From The Irish Examiner