Fr Joseph Begley was speaking at the funeral Mass of Aodhán Ó Conchúir, the 14-year-old Kerry student who died from injuries sustained while playing football for his school a week ago.
He told the congregation that last weekend, Aodhán’s parents, John and Áine, and his sister Ciara, had made a decision to donate his organs at Cork University Hospital.
“This truly is kindness, generosity, and consideration for others. A lifeline gifted in the midst of one’s own pain and loss, benefiting in this instance six people. It is a wonderful testimony to what love, true love is for human kind.”
Aodhán had brought smiles to people’s faces on and off the pitch and had accomplished much in his short life, the congregation at St Mary’s Church in Dingle was told yesterday.
Among the hundreds of mourners were Aodhán’s teachers, fellow pupils, and teammates from the mixed Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne; representatives of soccer and GAA, as well as the wider community, and family and friends who had travelled from South Africa, New York, Boston, and elsewhere.
The Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne sent his condolences and seven priests concelebrated the Mass.
Guards of honour were provided by Aodhán’s school, Camp Junior FC, Dingle GAA, the Dingle Fife and Drum Band, with whom he had played briefly, as well as the GAA, who accompanied his cortege in the bright west Kerry sunshine to St Brendan’s Cemetery outside the town.
Minutes later the first snow started to fall.
Several shops closed during the funeral as a mark of respect.
Gifts brought to the altar included a photograph of his family, to express Aodhán’s deep love of family, his headphones, his football and jerseys, his woodwork project which his classmates finished for him this week, and the boots he played in so often, as well as a soccer ball and a football.
Fr Begley, Dingle parish priest, said Aodhán loved sport and had recently signed up to the Kerry soccer U15 panel.
The Mass switched seamlessly from Irish to English throughout and Aodhán would be remembered as “a laoch spóirt”, said the priest — a sports hero.
Aodhán had had a special place for Milly, the family dog, and his bicycle. “My goodness he minded that bicycle,” said Fr Begley. He would keep the bike in his bedroom and lift it over the driveway in case it would get dirty.”
Aodhán had accomplished much in his short life, said Fr Begley. “It is not so much the years in life that matter but the life of those years,” he said, quoting Abraham Lincoln.
The priest acknowledged the help of the community and beyond for the family, as well as Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, sporting communities, the ambulance crew, the doctors and especially the nurses at CUH who were there night and day and “who went beyond the call of duty”.
Aodhán is survived by parents Áine and John, sister Ciara, grandfather Jack McKivergan, aunts Siobhán, Rose, and Caitríona, and uncles Joe, Brendan, Martin, Seán, Brian, Kieran, and Paudie.
Among the many who attended the funeral were Kerry football manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Sean Coffey, the principal of St Brendan’s College, Killarney. The choir of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne sang at the Mass.
Aodhán, who would have turned 15 on March 24, died on Saturday at CUH.
He had been involved in a collision and received a head injury after he and a number of players went for the ball during the U15 Russell Cup match against St Brendan’s College on Wednesday last week in Páirc an Aghasaigh, Dingle.