By Sarah Mac Donald - 30 August, 2015
The Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin has pledged his and his diocese’s support to the family of Dónal English-Hayden, ahead of his funeral on Saturday in St Patrick’s Church, Rathoe in Co Carlow.
The 14-year-old tragically died in a farm accident as he and his brother were helping a neighbour in a field near Ballon on Wednesday.
In a statement on Saturday, Bishop Denis Nulty said that the news of the tragic death of Dónal has caused much sadness in the lives of so many people in the local rural community of Rathoe.
“The thoughts and prayers of the diocese and well beyond are surrounding you, Dónal’s family, and the parish family,” he said.
The Bishop, who himself comes from a farming family in Co Meath added, “A farm tragedy affects so many – and in Dónal’s case the local clubs, the schools, the friends, the neighbours – there isn’t one person here today who remains unaffected.”
“For most of us, faced with the tragedy that confronted Dónal’s family, we would be numb and speechless, but each of you, Matt and Noeleen; Deirdre, Claire, Maria, Matthew, Seamus and Moling and Dónal’s grandmother, Maggie have been most noble and dignified in your hour of grief.”
Dr Nulty said, “Today I hold you especially in my prayers as I do your very good neighbours, the Hogan family.”
“My simple message, on this difficult day for all of you, is, to remind you as you have witnessed in recent days, you are not alone, and will never be alone. My prayers and those of the wider community surround you and carry you this day and in the days to come.”
The chief celebrant and preacher at the funeral Mass at St Patrick’s Church Rathoe was Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, President of Carlow College.
In his homily, he explained that since 1996 he has served as chaplain and on the Board of Management of Gaelscoil Uí Thuairsic and chaplain to the Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach. It is in these roles that he came into contact le clann Uí Inglís-Uí Éideáin, the English-Hayden family.
“It was there that I first met Dónal and I had the privilege as I had with other family members of hearing his First Confession, giving him his First Holy Communion and confirming him in the faith.”
In his tribute to the teenager he said, “For his family, his school friends and his sports friends Dónal was a teenager who had a zest and a passion for life. He was fun; he was affectionate; he was caring; he was tender … except on the hurling field … and there may be a few here today who have scars as evidence of that.”
“Dónal was impish. He asked questions; he had an inquiring mind; he was straightforward; he was honest. He was ceanndána … headstrong. Being a son of the soil he loved animals, especially cows. He kept rabbits. He liked trees. He had an interest in planting and growing things. He enjoyed red sauce, jelly and ice-cream.”
“Last Wednesday, ‘a fear and trembling’ gripped us all when we heard that Dónal had died as a result of a most unfortunate, unexpected and sudden accident. Our thoughts turned to his family. We asked how anyone could cope with such a loss as this.”
“Coping with loss, with any loss makes big demands on us as human beings. At times, the sense of loss is overbearing, especially when the death is that of a young person. We are affected physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
“I am thinking particularly here about all the young people who are here at Mass today and who are feeling churned up inside about the loss of Dónal as a brother, cousin, friend, school pal and teammate. It is not an easy time for you and sometimes it’s hard to say how you feel. It is very tough for us adults too.”
He encouraged them all to continue to support one another and stand by each other and not to be afraid to ask for help.
Dónal’s parents Matt and Noeleen, and brothers Matthew, Seamus and Moling and sisters Deirdre, Claire and Maria and Donal’s Grandmother Maggie English were the chief mourners.
The singing will be led by the combined pupils of Knockbeg College, Carlow and the Gaelchólaiste Cheatharlach.
The symbols of Dónal’s lives presented before the commencement of Mass included a hurl brought by Seamus, Dónal’s brother; a toy tractor brought by Eric English, Dónal’s cousin; a toy cow brought by Cathal Hayden, Dónal’s cousin; and medals brought by Kieran Buckley, Dónal’s cousin.