A lone butterfly flew over the coffin of Bryan Whelan throughout the Mass, as his family, friends, and work colleagues saidgoodbye to a ‘gentleman’ bricklayer with a “heart of gold”.
Mr Whelan, aged 29, from Bridgetown, Co Clare, and TJ O’Herlihy, 36, a stone mason from Castleisland, Co Kerry, died after a cable, held by a crane, snapped as they worked at Thomond Bridge in Limerick.
A third man, Paul Murphy, 36, from Askeaton, Co Limerick, escaped without injury.
Mr Murphy, along with hundreds more, attended Mr Whelan’s funeral Mass in Kilbane, south-east Clare yesterday.
“While Bryan’s death is indeed an immeasurable loss to his parents and siblings and the local community... he tragically lost his life last Saturday afternoon whilst making Thomond Bridge in Limerick City, safe for other people to use,” said parish priest Fr John Bane.
John Paul Whelan, the eldest of three brothers, addressing his younger sibling Robert said: “The three amigos are now two”.
In an emotional eulogy, Mr Whelan, whose brother Bryan was his best man and godfather to his son Jack, added: “To say our family is heartbroken is an understatement. Our world, as we know it, was turned upside down.”
He said his brother was “charming, charismatic, and hard working” who excelled in his job as a bricklayer and repairing bridges which mourners were told is a specialised skill.
“Bryan’s workmanship surrounds us in our homes... be it a wall, stonework, a pier, a fireplace,” Mr Whelan said. “Bryan was a person you could count on, a real gentleman.”
He also paid tribute to the professionalism and support of the emergency services who responded to the scene.
Mr Whelan was laid to rest in Kilbane Cemetery. His coffin was draped in the Broadford GAA club jersey for whom he had played hurling.