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Poignant message as young Westport man laid to rest

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Alan Sweeney-McBride’s funeral cortege makes its way up Bridge Street in Westport last Thursday.
SOLEMN?Alan Sweeney-McBride’s funeral cortege makes its way up Bridge Street in Westport last Thursday.

Poignant message to mourners as Alan Sweeney-McBride laid to rest


Neill O’Neill

A tragically familiar scene brought Westport to a standstill last Thursday, as Alan Sweeney- McBride’s funeral cortege crept its way through the town.
The 21 year-old died in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin on Saturday, November 23, from injuries sustained in a single vehicle accident in Sligo the previous Thursday morning. He had been travelling home with friends from a concert, but never regained consciousness after the impact shortly after 2am. Nobody else was injured in the accident.
Last Thursday morning in St Mary’s Church in Westport, Fr Charlie McDonnell told the congregation that the one thing everybody in the church wanted, was the one thing that they couldn’t have, to bring Alan back.
“In the midst of sadness we are celebrating his life, look beyond your grief, pain and loss and remember Alan,” said Fr McDonnell
He asked all present what is the one thing you would like to change in their lives because of Alan, because of his kindness, his love of family and others and his willingness to show it?
“What we can all learn from his death is that life is a gift, a precious gift, that should not be wasted. Alan will be buried with his grandfather, who also died young, and his name will be on a memorial, but don’t let that be the way he is remembered, let there be good from Alan’s death. We should not be waiting for the death of a young person to pull together as a community, to show kindness and love.
“Some might say good luck to you and your God, what did he do for Alan, but Jesus himself said the same thing on the cross, ‘my God my God, why have you deserted me?’ However, the story doesn’t end there. The second part of the story is one of resurrection. We want Alan here with us and it is hard to believe how any God would let this happen, yet I firmly believe Alan is at peace, and has been taken home to heaven.”
Fr McDonnell also had a strong message for Alan’s family and many friends: “Alan was a young man, who died far too young. How he died is not as important as the fact that he is gone and so many will miss him. Alan changed lives in a positive way, and in his death all of you have changed, but I hope it can be in a positive way.
“Life is short and should be lived to the full, but remember, life is also precious and we are all vulnerable. If Alan’s passing does one thing for everybody in this church, it will not be in vain.”
Alan’s is a life is worth celebrating, he had his vulnerabilities but also decency, passion and love.
During the ceremony, the gifts were brought to the altar by Alan’s sisters Stacey, Kelly-Ann, Shannon and Megan, along with two teachers - Cora and Brendan - from the course he was attending in Ballinrobe. They were symbolic of his ability in working with his hands, his social side; his love of family, his pet project which was restoring an old camper van and some of his work from his course.
Alan was repeatedly described as a fun-loving person, ‘the type of guy you’d love to be in company with.’
“Alan had dreams, he cared a lot for other people and genuinely looked out for others. He had a kind and generous heart and always included others when some people might not,” Fr Charlie stated.
“When he bought the camper van it was a dream to do it up, it needed a lot of work, he was going to bring his family and friends various places in it. It is now an unfinished job, unfinished business, there is always unfinished business when a young person dies.”
The post communion reflection on Alan’s life by Charlotte Murray spoke of a young man with a ‘magic smile, who was brilliant with children and in whose company there was never a dull moment’.
“The up for the craic lifestyle really suited him and he enriched many lives and touched many hearts,” she recalled.
Alan was laid to rest after his Funeral Mass in Aughavale Cemetery. May he rest in peace.

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