‘Gentle giant’ killed by stray bullet is laid to rest

A Royal Irish Regiment ranger, described at his funeral Mass as a gentle giant, was laid to rest with military honours yesterday after he was killed by a stray bullet during a training exercise in Wales.

Ranger Michael Maguire, who was due to celebrate his 22nd birthday today, was fondly remembered as a deeply professional soldier and one of the best in his British battalion.

At his funeral Mass at St Joseph’s Church, Coomhola, near Bantry, Co Cork, the coffin bearing his 6ft 7in frame was draped in the colours of the Royal Irish Regiment, together with his caubeen and belt.

A sliotar, hurley, and his U14 Cork county football championship medal were offered as gifts representing his love of sport.

The youngest of four children, Ranger Maguire had been a member of the army reserve before he joined the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment in Enniskillen in May 2010. He served in Afghanistan four months later and was in training to return when he was killed during a live firing exercise on May 2.

Chief celebrant Fr Donal Cotter told how the news of the accident filtered through, devastating the community which lost “one of its best”.

Anglican army chaplain Rev Andrew J Earl told how the soldier quickly made his mark on the battalion, where he was known as “a bit of a rogue”.

“He clearly made an impression on all he met. He was a great character in the truest sense, who lived life to the full,” Rev Earl said.

Close family friend Teddy O’Brien spoke of Ranger Maguire’s kindness and generosity, especially towards his mother Maureen, who suffers from MS. “As his commanding officer said of him, he was a deeply professional and likeable young man,” Mr O’Brien said.

Company Commander Major Richard Bell and his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir were among the mourners from Britain.

Representing the Irish Defence Forces were Lt Colonel Pat Moore, representing the GOC 1st Southern Brigade, and Commandant Jim Murphy of the 34th battalion.

A bugler and piper sounded at the graveside at Kilmacomogue Cemetery in Kealkil, where the Royal Irish Regiment formed a guard of honour as the coffin was lowered to the grave and the soldier’s personal items handed back to his grieving father, Michael.


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