Talented sportsman Niall O’Brien, who died last week following an altercation during a holiday in Greece, was remembered at his funeral Mass today as a “loyal, witty, warm rogue” who left his family and friends with a “legacy of love”.
The 21-year-old from Castletroy, Limerick, who hurled for Broadford, Co Clare, was “at the centre of fun — having it, and creating it”, his aunt Pauline said.
Hundreds of mourners looked on in silence as Mr O’Brien’s coffin was shouldered into Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Milford, Limerick, draped in the jerseys of several sporting clubs for which he played.
Friends from school, college, and sports clubs, in Monaleen, Castletroy, and Broadford provided guards of honour as the cortege travelled the short distance from Mr O’Brien’s home in Castletroy to the church.
Loved ones placed symbols of his life, including a family photograph; his hurley; a collage of photos of him and his friends; a deck of cards; and a school book, beside his coffin.
Mr O’Brien, who was due to begin his final year of studies in financial mathematics at the University of Limerick, was holidaying on the Greek island of Ios along with a group of friends, when he was allegedly assaulted on August 30.
At today’s Mass, Fr John Campion told the congregation: “The death of a young person is always distressing, and the death of a son, in their prime of life, is overwhelming”.
“Words are inadequate," he said:
Fr Campion described Mr O’Brien as “a legend, who brought joy and happiness to others”.
Family and friends shed tears of joy and devastation as they remembered “the entertainer” who loved “the craic”, and who was a “protector and spokesman” for his siblings.
One of his close friends, who remained in Greece until Mr O'Brien's body was repatriated last weekend, said: “Niall was a huge personality".
Mike O’Brien, the deceased young man's father, broke down paying tribute to his beloved “Niallo” with whom he shared a special bond and passion for sport:
From lifting hurling cups and golf trophies with Casteltroy College and Castletroy Golf Club in Limerick, to “his greatest achievement”, winning the U21 County Hurling Championship with Broadford GAA in Clare in 2019, Niall O’Brien had been part of a loyal band of sporting brothers in both counties, his father added.
Niall O’Brien’s coffin was shouldered from the church to his final resting place in Broadford, Co Clare, as the songby Wiz Khalifa, played out.