A young teacher who died after being struck while walking on the M7 in Co. Kilkenny early last Saturday morning had a comforting and kind demeanour and a passion for his vocation which made learning easy for his students, his requiem mass has heard.
Brendan Fitzpatrick of Powerswood, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, was struck by a vehicle travelling northbound between Junction 10 and 11 at around 4am last Saturday. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been walking home when the tragedy occurred.
The funeral mass for Brendan at the Church of the Assumption in Thomastown at 11am today heard from Brian Doran, principal of St Kevin's Community College in Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow, where the 24-year-old taught prior to his passing.
Mr Doran said that every person in their school gained personally and professionally from having Brendan in their lives.
"We are grateful to have had Brendan on our team even if it was only for a short while. Brendan joined the staff of St Kevin's in August 2021 having applied for a job as a teacher of engineering and DCG.
"On the day of the interviews there was a strong field of candidates. There was something about Brendan that stood out. I couldn't put my finger on it. It was an earnestness and honesty and a strong enthusiasm for his subjects.
"Over the year I never for a second had a doubt about the decision to hire Brendan. He took to St Kevin's and to the classroom like a duck to water. He was energetic and enthusiastic, knowledgeable and committed to his work.
"In a way Brendan was the best student we ever had. He was so keen to learn and to improve and so dedicated to our students."
Mr Doran said he never had to tell students to hurry up when they were going to Engineering or Graphics classes as they looked forward to their time with Brendan.
Meanwhile, Principal of Grennan College in Thomastown, Sean Og O'Sullivan, became visibly saddened as he recalled the young man who spent six years in his school before he embarked on a career in teaching.
Mr O'Sullivan said that Brendan returned to Grennan College to carry out his teaching placement "adding to the pride we already had in him".
"He was a sponge of learning in order to be able to give the best of himself to those he interacted with. For such a young man Brendan has created a lifetime of memories. He made an impact on those around him that us older fogies could only hope to achieve and don't always get there."
The mass also heard from Brendan's father, Eamonn, who thanked family, friends, neighbours and the priests of the parish for their support over the last few days.
"To everyone who sympathised with us over the last few days. Thank you very much. We really appreciate it."
Chief celebrant at the mass, Fr Daniel Bollard, said that Brendan's grandmother Kathleen told him that the death of her grandson didn't make sense.
"We try to make sense in our own finite ways. It is best we live with the unknowing for the moment. We will seek to support (the family) in any way we can in the days ahead.
"We want to thank the young people of Dunlavin for all the kind messages you put on Rip.ie. I know they bring joy to Brendan's family.
“Every weekend you turn on the radio and there is probably another tragedy each week. It is a weekly thing sadly. It is only when it comes to home that you and I are affected. It is a parents' worst nightmare."
Offertory gifts included a canoe paddle representing the time Brendan spent with the Thomastown Paddlers Canoe Club, his sixth year Engineering award, his college jersey and an X-box controller.
Brendan was laid to rest at the New Cemetery in Thomastown following the mass. He is survived by his parents Fiona and Eamonn, his sister Eimear, grandmother Kathleen and his extended family.