WHEN Brian Keane arrived back at the home he shared with his young family in Weatherfort, Clogher, last Wednesday evening, it was not in the manner that anyone would have thought when he left for work that morning.
The 25-year-old newlywed had been snatched from this world in a split-second that delivered an earth-shatteringly cruel blow to his wife, two infant daughters and both their families. The couple’s unborn child will never know their father, his children left behind may be too young to remember his warm smile, but Brian Keane will never be forgotten.
That much has become clear in the intervening days from the words of his brother, wife and friends, and also from witnessing an unfailing display of unity by two communities at almost opposite ends of the county. This has left a huge impression on Brian Keane’s entire grieving family, and they wish to let their thanks for it be known.
Under a blanket of darkness last Thursday evening, parishioners, neighbours and friends from his community stood in silent solemnity in a guard of honour when his remains arrived at his childhood home, just as members of Ballyglass Football Club had the evening before in their locality. Hundreds came and went in silent moonlight to say goodbye to Brian Keane that night, yet Newport Church was still packed beyond its usual capacity for his Funeral Mass at 3pm last Friday.
The chief celebrant was Canon Eamon Concannon, former Parish Priest of Newport, who reminisced on personal memories from Brian’s childhood and school years in the town and surrounds, and recalled his involvement in set-dancing and all things sporting. Also on the altar were Fr Pat Donnellan, PP Islandeady; Fr Jack Garvey, PP Carnacon; Fr James Cribben, PP Geesala; Fr Austin Fergus, PP Mayo Abbey; Fr J McDonnell, Renvyle; and Fr James Roynane, PP Clifden.
The congregation heard from David Keane about his brother’s passion for sport and his family, and how there was no greater tribute to Brian than the sheer number of people who had turned out to sympathise with them. “He was a wonderful brother,” he said, the pain of what had happened obvious in his tear-filled eyes. He expressed gratitude on behalf of his family to all who had gone to Brian’s aid at the crash scene, and to all who had united in their community to help the family and who had provided the guards of honour. Drawing on another tragic and poignant coincidence, David also spoke of how Brian had been so upset at the passing of his childhood friend Keith Donnellan last year, and how he is now confident that the two of them are again reunited, and would be watching over their families forever.
Showing composure and inner strength, Brian’s wife Sarah also spoke of her incalculable loss and the need to tell people how you feel about them before it is too late. “You never know what is around the corner,” she said, with the shock and enormity of what had befallen her passage through life still sinking in.
In the church, two beautiful singing voices echoed around the hallowed rafters. The last time they were heard by many of the congregation was at an altogether different occasion, when they sang at Brian and Sarah’s wedding a little over three months ago.
Brian was buried after Requiem Mass in Burrishoole Cemetery, where guards of honour from Burrishoole GAA Club, Ballyglass Soccer Club and Westport Rugby Club – Brian was a member of all three – flanked his coffin on its final journey. He is survived by his wife Sarah, young daughters Maria and Tara, parents Helen and Jackie, sisters Sharon, Aislinn and Evelyn, brothers Des and Dave, in-laws and a wide circle of family and friends across the county and beyond.