GUARD OF HONOUR Westport United FC Chairperson Myles Staunton and Interim Manager Padraig Burns lead the club’s Guard of Honour as he funeral cortege of Adam Mulchrone makes its way along the South Mall in Westport, en route to Aughgower Cemetery last Thursday evening. Pic: Conor McKeown
Town comes to standstill for funeral of 21-year-old footballer
THE town of Westport came to complete standstill last Thursday afternoon, on what was the coldest day of 2019, as the funeral of 21-year-old Adam Mulchrone took place in St Mary’s Church.
Just five days earlier, the precocious young soccer player had been training with his Westport Utd team-mates ahead of a big Connacht Cup game, but tragically, by Sunday evening, Adam had passed away, after falling ill from a suspected attack of meningitis.
The church was packed ahead of the afternoon funeral, with Adam’s remains arriving to the church accompanied by his grieving parents, Paul and Mary, of Sandyhill, Westport and heartbroken brother and sister, Colin and Amy, entering the church to the strains of the Michael Jackson song, ‘You are not Alone’.
A huge contingent of players, officials and supporters from Westport Utd sat together in silence to the left of the altar, still visibly shocked at the tragedy that had unfolded over the last few days of January. Adam’s death had sent shockwaves throughout the soccer community, not only here in Mayo, but across the country, and this was reflected by the attendance of Denis Cruise from the FAI, on behalf of the association’s President, John Delaney, who was out of the country. A large contingent was also present from Sligo IT, where Adam had attended college. After welcoming all the dignitaries to the funeral, Fr Charlie McDonnell then invited Adam’s heartbroken sister Amy to the altar to address the congregation. You could hear a pin drop as Amy so bravely paid a beautiful tribute to a son and brother, who was so dearly loved and idolised.
Amy described her brother as a ‘special, compassionate, humble and strong brother’, and reiterated the words that so many had spoken since Adam’s sudden death, describing him as ‘the perfect definition of a true gentleman’.
“We will miss your kindness and walking in the door after a training session. We are so proud of you for all your achievements and no words could ever explain the love we have for you. You will be forever in our hearts,” said a truly brave Amy, before leaving the altar to receive a big hug from her dad Paul.
Fr McDonnell had already referred to how Adam had already managed to get through so much during his short life, and symbols of that life were then brought to the altar by Adam’s relations.
First up was a football, which was always by Adam’s side; a biology book from Adam’s college course was then brought to the altar; followed by his beloved Westport Utd jersey, and finally, a scrapbook which his family kept documenting all his sporting and academic achievements. In a wide-ranging homily, Fr McDonnell said the Westport community had once again come together in ‘sadness, shock and sorrow’.
“All we can do is care for each other in the midst of grief. Sadly, we don’t have answers to why this happened and there are many unanswered questions. All we can say is you (the Mulchrone family) are not alone and we hope, as a family, you will find comfort in that.
“The loss of a child is a particular kind of loss. It is beyond comprehension that someone with their whole life ahead of them and with so much to look forward to has life ended so prematurely. His life was short, but well-lived and he did so much in his 21 years. He will be forever young,” said Fr McDonnell, who added that Adam was never one to shout his mouth off, but when he spoke people listened, and that he was a ‘man of actions, rather than words’.
Adam left St Mary’s Church to a haunting rendition of ‘Nearer my God to thee’, sung by Anne Marie Gibbons, whose vocals, accompanied by Gerard McNally on piano, were a comforting part of what was a hugely difficult ceremony for all of the congregation.
A bitter winter wind accompanied a squally shower as the funeral cortege made it way down the South Mall, en-route to Aughagower Cemetery, flanked by a large guard of honour from Westport Utd. Young and old from the club braved the horrible conditions to pay one final tribute to a dear friend, who truly held a special place in the hearts of all who got to know him so well during his playing time with the club.
Behind the wheel of the hearse on Adam’s final journey was his uncle Peter, a member of the staff of McGing Funeral Directors, who conducted the funeral. Adam was laid to rest in Aughagower Cemetery.
May he Rest in Peace.