GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN The late Rory Staunton.
Grief-stricken family say goodbye to 12-year-old Rory Staunton
THERE were emotional and heart wrenching scenes on both sides of the Atlantic last week as 12-year-old Rory Staunton’s short life was first commemorated at a service in New York before his burial yesterday, Easter Monday, in Drogheda, Co Louth.
Rory was the son of Ciaran Staunton, originally from Knappagh, Westport and Dadreen, Thallabawn, Louisburgh and Orlaith Staunton, nee O’Dowd. Rory died in a New York hospital on Sunday, March 30 after a toxic bacteria entered his body through an elbow cut received when he fell at a basketball game.
Over 1,200 people packed into St Mary’s Church in Queens to pay tribute to young Rory, who was nephew Niall O’Dowd, the editor of the Irish Voice, the New York based Irish American newspaper which is also run by Rory’s mother and Niall’s sister Orlaith.
Niall this week documented his family’s grief though his Periscope column on the irishcentral.com website where he referred to the huge bravery shown by his brother-in-law who eulogised before the large crowd about his departed son.
Ciaran spoke of his pal who was an ‘co-conspirator’ in a number of escapades and how he prospered so well at the local non-denominational school and received an education that had shown him windows on the world.
Niall O’Dowd in his column last week wrote passionately about a boy who obviously played a huge part in the lives of all those who knew him:
“From earliest times, Rory was a laughing little boy, an impish toddler always ready for fun, especially when his sister Kathleen and her sidekick, my daughter Alana, were involved.
“In later years, he was also strangely mature for his age, taking part in adult conversations while other kids played childhood games.
“I tried to steal Rory away often; a Notre Dame game, a weekend at our house, whenever the opportunity presented itself. I revelled in this big laughing Irishman, with the ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy’ obsession, the absurd sense of humour and the serious political side of him who studied American politics with the intensity of a professional.
“JFK was his hero he told me, because of his idealism. Rory too wanted to make a difference, to help the less well off. For one so young he already had a highly developed social conscience.
“He had already been to the White House and had met President Obama and Michelle on St Patrick’s Day in 2011. Not surprisingly, given his parents and their keen interest in all things political, Rory was fast becoming a political expert.
“Rory charmed the pants off whoever met him. The girls were already showing interest, but Rory was a busy guy. He had taken flying lessons at 11, leaving his parents with their hearts in their mouths as he flew fearlessly into the wild blue yonder with his instructor.
“Ireland was his spiritual home. On vacations back in his Dad’s Mayo or his Mom’s Kerry and Louth he fell in with the locals and a gaggle of cousins, discussed Mayo’s continued Gaelic Football failures with the best of them and came back to New York as attuned to Ireland and its rhythms as any local.
“He was about to spread his wings, and Georgetown University and its politics degree were on his radar. Rory was opening up, emerging from a chrysalis, ready for the beckoning world, to take flight.
“Then on Sunday we lost him. Four days earlier he had received an elbow scrape after falling while playing basketball, which had somehow allowed a toxic bacteria into his system. Two days later he was hospitalised, fighting for his life, a battle he ultimately lost.”
Niall also wrote on Sunday about the wake for Rory which took place in his aunt Derval’s home in Co Meath where the Staunton and O’Dowd families said their last goodbyes.
“The wake went on late into the night. Farming life was one constant topic, as two rural families united in grief for a young boy but also in celebration of an extraordinary life. Our hearts are broken but the extraordinary love for Rory in Ireland and America is solace indeed,” concluded Niall.
Rory is survived by his grieving parents Ciaran and Orlaith, his ten-year-old sister Kathleen, his grandmother Tessie Staunton (Knappagh), uncles Joe, Pearse, Declan, Noel (Knappagh), Aidan (Kiltimagh), Fintan (Castlebar), Gabriel (Dublin), and aunt Loretta Marley (Glenhest) and many other relatives and friends. Removal was to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rathleigh, Tara, Co Meath yesterday (Monday) for Requiem Mass. Rory was buried afterwards, beside his grandmother, in Drogheda.
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