A PHOTO of 22-year-old Kevin Sinnott hung at the end of his coffin as it lay in front of the altar of a Co Cork church before his requiem Mass yesterday morning.
It showed a young man with cropped hair, dressed in a plain green T-shirt, with the kind of smile that makes you smile yourself.
The 600 or so mourners filing up to pay their respects couldn’t help but shake their heads at the youth and vitality that emanated from the picture. It was if the drowning victim was beaming down at them as they gathered along the aisle of the Church of Our Lady and Saint Joh to pay their respects to his family.
They had come from all over the world to sympathise with his parents: Chicago-born former Ireland South MEP and disability campaigner Kathy Sinnott and acclaimed guitarist and Irish music producer Declan Sinnott.
Ms Sinnott stood at the top of the first pew: seeming to comfort those who were there to comfort her. Declan Sinnott and his other eight children looked bewildered, shocked and pained.
Kevin, who was studying psychology and philosophy at Southern Catholic University in Georgia in the USA, died after he got into difficulties while swimming with two friends last week in Dawsonville Lake near his Atlanta campus.
The first three pews of the church were packed with teenagers, children and young men in their 20s. Kevin was one of nine and his mother is also guardian to her sister’s seven children after their mother died tragically. They were all there to pay their respects.
“I feel like I have lived such a sheltered life. There is nothing in my life that could have prepared me for the heartbreak that I have been feeling. It’s a heartbreak that I never wish to be fixed,” his sobbing older brother Joadie told the congregation.
Chief celebrant at the requiem Mass was Kathy’s brother, Fr Brendan Kelly, who was joined by nine other priests from Ireland and the US. Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross joined them at the end of the Mass to pray for Kevin.
MEP Sean Kelly was among the congregation as was musician John Spillane.
His father’s fellow Moving Hearts band member Christy Moore sang his song Listen unaccompanied after the Mass, while two friends joined to give a heartbreaking rendition of Tim Buckley’s Hallelujah.
The chaplain from Kevin’s former French boarding school, Chavagnes in La Vendee, began the homily by commenting: “One of your prayers has been answered, Kevin. You have brought all of your family to Mass — even if they don’t usually come”.
The chaplain spoke of “confession being a big part of Kevin’s faith life” and how he had gone to confession the morning before he drowned. He also told the congregation how he remembered often finding him in the church saying a decade of the rosary after he gave “vent to his fiery temper”.
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