The stepfather of a soldier who died after falling ill at his army barracks told his funeral yesterday he was very proud when the late Daniel Donougher called him Dad for the first time.
The three-star private from Mallow, Co Cork, died at Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick on June 22 after he fell ill during the unit’s Organised Recreational Physical Training.
The 23-year-old Cork man was stationed with the 12th battalion and part of the 141 platoon in Limerick City.
At his requiem Mass in the Church of the Resurrection in Mallow yesterday, Daniel’s stepfather, Philip, said the young soldier would never be forgotten.
“You were a son that your mum and me were so proud of,” said Philip. “Even before you joined the army you filled our lives with love and joy everyday. It was frustrating sometimes because even when I tried to find faults in you, your mother soon put me right.
“The love you showed to us, Danny, we will dearly miss, from the simple things, like each and every phone call you finished with ‘I love you Mum or Dad’. And you didn’t care who was beside you when you said it. That meant so much to us.
“Daniel, you let me into your life when you were seven years old. It was an honour and a privilege when you asked me if you could call me Dad.”
He said the family had been overwhelmed with the expressions of sympathy and support shown to them over the last week and that their “worst nightmare” had been realised with the news of Daniel’s sudden death.
“No words can express our loss,” said Philip. “While Daniel spent less than a year in the Army, the support and help we have received has been amazing. All your support over the past five days has been outstanding. For your attention to every detail in organising the services yesterday and today, my wife and myself will be forever grateful. To the soldiers who formed the guard of honour and to all the army musicians, pall bearers, and all those who are taking part in giving Daniel the send-off he would have been so proud of, we thank you.”
The funeral Mass was celebrated by Army Chaplin Fr Brian Whelan, who was joined by the parish priest of Mallow, Archdeacon Gerard Casey.
Other attendees included Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, Chief of Staff of the defence forces, Commodore Hugh Tully, Officer commanding the Naval Service and Brigadier General Paddy Flynn commanding the Southern Brigade.
Daniel was laid to rest at St Gobnait’s Cemetery in Mallow. He is survived by his mother Daniela, stepfather Philip, and sister Ninette.
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