PAYING TRIBUTE?Members of Claremorris GAA Club lead the Guard of Honour at the funeral of team mate Alan Feeley. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Sudden death of Alan Feeley stuns Claremorris
CLAREMORRIS was stunned last week when news came through of the death of Alan Feeley in Limerick. The 28 year-old collapses while working out at the gym in the University of Limerick on Monday evening. He was rushed to Limerick Regional Hospital but died on Tuesday.
Alan played for Claremorris in the senior league against Charlestown in Claremorris the previous day and had travelled back down to Limerick where he was a member of the staff at Doon Secondary School in Co Limerick. His brother Liam was with him in the gym when he took ill.
A pall of gloom descended on the Claremorris region and in the rural heartlands of Limerick where he had become such a familiar face over the last five years. His death has rocked both communities.
Mourners came from all over to pay their respects last week, all sharing in the huge sadness and lending their support to the Feeley family circle and their friends in their time of deepest grief.
A huge crowd gathered for the removal from Donnellan’s Funeral Home on Thursday evening and there was an overflow congregation for the Mass on Friday afternoon. The Taoiseach was represented by his aide-de-camp, Comdt Walter Hunt, a native of Claremorris.
A major guard of honour, comprising mainly of friends from the sporting world, flanked the hearse through the town on both Thursday night and Friday afternoon. Interment took place in St Colman’s Cemetery.
Alan is deeply regretted by his parents Willie and Kathleen, brothers Hugh, Donal and Liam, grandmother Sadie Molloy, girlfriend Louise Galvin, sister-in-law Eadaoin, the family circle, and legion of friends.
‘Cool dude’ with caring nature
FR Peter Gannon captured much of the quintessential nature of Alan Feeley in a heartfelt and moving tribute and celebration of the life of the young Claremorris man.
He told the overflow congregation that Alan had a unique way in reaching out to people. There were no age barriers with him. He loved to see people get on around him. And in a special message to the young people present he said: “Take a leaf out of his book, support each other, not just today but always.”
Referring to the terrible emptiness felt by so many on the day, he said: “If any of you were to stand here where I am now and look at the people here in front of you, it would break anyone’s heart. Kathleen and Willie, I know personally of your immense pride you have in all of your lads. You both have to bear the circumstances that go against the law of nature for a parent to lose their child. You have the prayers and heartfelt sympathy of the whole community. Hugh, Donal and Liam, you were always a close family and always watched out for each other, to Aideen his sister-in-law, to Louise his girlfriend and to Sadie Molloy his grandmother, our hearts are with all of you this day.”
Alan’s interests and ability to take on so many daunting physical activities took him to many parts of the world. Fr Peter evoked a humorous response when he described his as a cool dude. “Alan packed more into the little over a quarter of a century of his life than probably the rest of us would achieve in a lifetime. We celebrate and give thanks for the multiple successes and achievements of his life. He was one cool dude and he enjoyed being a cool dude. He travelled the world, his endless activities were amazing, he jumped from thousands of feet, dived in the depths of the ocean, climbed Kilimanjaro, and his sporting achievements have been exceptional. The designer clothes, the gel, a great party man, full of the joys of life.
“He wanted his organs to be donated should anything ever happen to him. He encouraged others to have an organ donor card. Quite a number of people’s lives have been saved this week because of his wish …something he would be immensely proud of.”
Brothers join in tributes
LIAM and Donal Feeley joined in the tributes to their brother at the end of the Mass in Claremorris Church. They thanked Fr Peter for providing the family with guidance and comfort and all the priests who came along for the concelebrated Requiem Mass.
They spoke of Alan’s generosity of spirit which manifested itself in so many ways over the years. “Because of his donor card, instead of seven funerals today, there is only one,” Donal told the hushed congregation. He also referred to the two weeks he spent in Nairobi among the poor after raising €5,000 for Child Aid.
Alan was highly competitive and whether playing or coaching, he always gave 100 per cent. “He had to run faster, jump higher and out-pace the rest of us. He did a sky diving course in Spain and I was with him for it. We did a few jumps. The first one saw us land in the expert zone where good skydivers normally come in with ease. There is another zone close to this and the fields are for everyone else. The second one saw us land beside the zone but our third jump saw us land a couple of miles away and we had to be collected by a bus!” said Liam to much laughter.
The lads also had a mention for Alan’s dog Noosa (named after a town in Australia that he took a shine to) “who not only had to be the best trained dog but also the best looking dog!”
“Alan was a true leader, a role model for so many people. He led by example and captained Claremorris at every age level, including senior. He was strong both physically and mentally and was full of positivity and drive. He had a great lust for life. His array of interests took him to weird and wonderful places all over the world. He planned to go skiing in Italy in January.
“Instead of being sad he’s gone, rather be glad that he came to visit,” concluded Donal to prolonged applause from the congregation.
Colleagues remember ‘outstanding’ teacher
THE PRINCIPAL of Scoil na Tríonóide Naofa in Doon, Co Limerick, Ms Eilis Casey, led tributes to staff member Alan Feeley.
“It doesn’t make sense. He was without doubt an inspirational young man, hardworking, a fabulous teacher and excellent athlete and sportsman. We are very sad and extremely saddened for his mum and dad, his brothers and his girlfriend. Our grief is a shade compared to theirs,” said Ms Casey.
Alan taught PE and geography at the school in Doon over the last five years. “As a teacher he was very innovative and PE was so enjoyable for the girls. He was very popular. There was an ease and calmness about him,” said Ms Casey, who recalled that he coached pupils to a Munster Gaelic football title last year. He also introduced spikeball to the school and brought them to two All-Ireland finals.
One of the school’s pupils, Colin Ryan ‘Malachy’ - the Limerick goalkeeper on the Munster minor winning team in July said on Twitter: “Shocking news, RIP Alan Feeley you’ll be sadly missed - too young”.
Claremorris GAA remember ‘brilliant guy’
PROMINENT Claremorris GAA member Brendan Fitzpatrick summed up the feelings of all at the club when he said Alan Feeley epitomised all that was good about the club. “It’s hard to believe our club has lost a great footballer, a great friend and genuine brilliant guy. No matter when you met him he always had a smile on his face, nothing seemed to faze him. He gave 100 percent in everything he did in life and lived every minute to the full.
“He was an inspiration to many around him, a leader, in his actions rather than his words. The saddest day I’ve seen in Claremorris in all my years. You won’t ever be forgotten Alan, you epitomised everything that is great in the club. It was a pleasure to have known you.”