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Be brave priest urges friends of dead Carlow teen

By Sarah Mac Donald - 06 February, 2014

St Lazerian's Church, Leighlinbridge.

St Lazerian’s Church, Leighlinbridge.

People need to be brave and say no when faced with the challenge of Neknomination, parish priest, Fr Thomas Lalor said at the funeral mass of 19 year old Jonny Byrne in Co Carlow on Wednesday.

In his homily, Fr Lalor recounted how he was called to the scene of Jonny’s death on Saturday evening by the Byrne family.

“Their world was torn asunder” by the tragedy in Milford. When Jonny’s father Joe started to tell him what had happened, he “was dumbfounded, I couldn’t understand.”

“Today we are standing beside the Byrnes, trying to lessen their pain. We know we can’t. We feel so helpless.”

He described Jonathan Byrne as “a fine young man, a lovely character.”

He implored those assembled for the funeral at St Lazerian’s Church, Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow to “be brave.”

“Life is full of risks. We are always taking risks. If we didn’t take risks we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Often the risks are harmless. Often we make great calculations before taking a risk. We know that if we fail the result can have disastrous consequences.”

“And then add alcohol to the situation as is the case in so many of these ‘Neknominations’. And the peer pressure that brings modern risks, modern challenges that were unknown in my time, unknown over ten years ago.” 

“People need to say no” and “find there is a greatness in this. You have heard of the ‘Power of One.’ Just as this craze is supposed to have been started by one person, it can be stopped by one person. Let you be that person.”

“If you are faced with this challenge, be strong, be great, and make a worthwhile contribution. You owe it to Jonathan Byrne. He achieved a lot in his short life. Look at the number of friends he had, the skill he had, and his athletic ability. I challenge you today to be as good a person as Jonathan was, to be the best you can be.”

He reminded the packed church that life is “a wonderful gift, a fragile gift, we are not made of stone.”

“Life can be taken away from us in the twinkling of an eye. Life is precious. Enjoy it, enjoy it to the full. Make a full contribution. Get involved in helping and giving. Just like the mentors and officials in the sporting clubs. Volunteers see the satisfaction they get from the commitment they give. It is in giving that we receive. Look out for one another. Be good to one another, begin there.”

Fr Lalor concluded by referring to the Gospel, expressing the hope that the God would “roll away the stone of sadness for Joe, Kathleen and Patrick [Byrne] and for all who grieve here today and that you will come to realise that Jonathan is alive now with his God, enjoying the fullness of life and love for all eternity.”

The guard of honour at the funeral saw members from Naomh Bríd; Leighlinbridge GAA Club; Michael Davitt’s football Club; Vale Wanderers Soccer Club; Co Carlow GAA; Knockbeg College line out to remember the popular young student.

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