Swinford unites in grief to remember talented sports star Gary Price
The life of a young 23-year-old Swinford man who drowned in Laos, South East Asia last week was compared to a glistening garden in the brilliant May sunshine as the talented sports star was laid to rest yesterday in the midst of sombre and emotional scenes.
Speaking during his eulogy at the Church of Our Lady Help of Christians, Swinford, chief-celebrant Fr Dermot Meehan made the comparison.
“At the Price home in Cullane there is a beautiful garden which is radiant in the May sunshine and is looking its best. Gary was in the early spring of his life. He was bright, strong, loving and a wonderful son, brother and friend.”
Hundreds of locals, friends and sporting colleagues from across Mayo and Galway joined his family to pay tribute to the talented and much-loved Gary who was laid to rest in Kilconduff Cemetery after an emotional and heart-wrenching funeral Mass yesterday afternoon.
His father Gerry told the congregation how proud he was of Gary.
“Any dad would have been proud to have had a son like Gary. He was innovative, smart, kind and hardworking. He lived a brilliant life. He had an explosive smile which could light up any room.”
The former Business Studies student at GMIT in Galway was returning from just under a year travelling in Australia when his tragic death occurred after he was swept away by a strong current while with a group crossing the Nam Song River near the town of Vang Vieng in Laos.
The Chairman of Swinford FC Donal Benson spoke movingly and with tears in his eyes about Gary’s vibrant personality and dedication and the goodwill which Gary always engendered with the club.
“I don’t know [why this has happened]. God’s football team in heaven must have some big games coming up and he needed a great striker,” he added.
The trip to South East Asia which Mr Price planned and undertook with his friends Kieran Lynskey from Swinford and Shane Hynes from Castlebar was billed as the dream holiday to end an unforgettable year of adventure, fun and comradeship in Australia.
Gary was planning to return home to Swinford, Co Mayo after his travels in time for his birthday on May 29 to spend time with his family and friends before travelling on to Boston in the USA where he was due to play GAA during the summer months. Sadly that never came to pass as he was laid to rest yesterday one day before what would have been his 24th birthday.
Gary’s brother Kevin spoke glowingly about his younger brother during the service and stated that the caring young man had ensured that flowers were delivered on March 18 last to their mother Margaret for Mother’s Day. A note on the flowers said, ‘Love you. See you soon for my birthday.’
A poignant guard of honour was formed by Swinford FC, Swinford GAA Club and Castlebar Celtic FC, where Gary played a major part in an historic FAI Youth Cup (U-18) success in 2007.
During his eulogy Fr Meehan described Gary as a talented young man both on and off the pitch. He added that Gary Price was a kind, generous and loving son, brother and friend who touched the lives of so many people he met.
Sports jerseys from the long list of clubs which Gary represented with distinction were brought forward during the gifts ceremony as the colours of Castlebar Celtic, Swinford GAA, Swinford FC, Mervue Utd and Boston GAA Club were carried to the altar.
Gary’s father Gerry thanked the throngs of mourners who had attended the family home and church for their unequivocal support to his wife Margaret, son Kevin and daughters Geraldine and Aisling. Mr Price added that he did not realise how one young man’s death could unite an entire community.
The death of Gary Price is the second tragedy to occur in Swinford in recent years. Swinford native Garda Robert McCallion, died tragically from injuries sustained from a stolen car whilst on duty in Letterkenny in April 2009.