In the wrong place, at the wrong time, but on the right path.
Martin O’Rourke’s tragic but belatedly hopeful life was summed up by Fr Derek Farrell at the 24-year-old’s funeral, eight days after he was shot dead by a hitman who targeted a gangland figure but killed an innocent man.
There were desperate scenes of grief at St Michan’s Church in the centre of Dublin city as Martin’s coffin was carried from the hearse.
A relative fell to her knees pleading for the sight she was seeing not to be real. Martin’s nieces, clutching a precious framed photo of their uncle, cried too.
Then his two-year-old son, Michael, began to sob in the arms of his grandmother, the distress around him finally proving too much.
Martin’s fiancée, Angelina Power, expecting their fourth child in the autumn, held their four-year-old daughter, Angela, tight by the hand and tried to reassure her. Only baby Martin, just eight months old and cuddled by his aunt, was spared the realisation of the pain gripping his family.
His father knew too much about death. Martin’s brother, Michael ‘Rocky’; his mother, Mary; and father, Patrick ‘Podge’, had all gone before him and Martin had been warned by those who helped him fight his addiction demons that he was putting his own life in jeopardy.
Martin listened, the mourners heard, and was turning his life around, going back to education, due to start a drug rehabilitation course and aiming to move out of homeless accommodation into a flat with Angelina and the children.
“When offered the view that ‘any man can be a father but it takes a real man to be a daddy’, it inspired Martin with a motivation for the new direction in his life,” Fr Farrell said.
Now those with power needed to listen. It was no harm, then, that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had slipped quietly into the congregation to hear the priest plead for investment in “sports clubs, youth clubs, community guards, community centres, community groups, outreach workers, training centres and drug treatment, and rehabilitation centres”.
Martin had begun coming to terms with his losses, writing a poem to his late mother that began: “Hey mam, every day I bless your picture/It makes me feel ok, cause it feels like I’m with you.”
He used to sing the song ‘Daddy’s Girl’ to his first-born, Angela, and the record was played as the funeral Mass drew to an end. Little Angela was gently twirled around by her auntie to the familiar tune and she didn’t cry. Not yet.
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