Emotional scenes as 15-year-old Plumbridge boy with ‘heart of gold’ is laid to rest beside his father

Friday, 8 June 2018

THE grief experienced after the traumatic loss of his father must have gone beyond what he could have coped with, Parish Priest, Rev Brian Donnelly, told mourners at the Requiem Mass for 15-year-old Aodhan Ward, in a packed Sacred Heart Church, Plumbridge, on Friday morning.
In an emotional and reflective homily, Fr Donnelly spoke of the 15-year-old's attempts to weave some understanding into how his late father, Nishi, had passed away in a farm accident seven months earlier. Sadly his young son passed away on Monday of last week in tragic and untimely circumstances.
The news that a second tragedy in such a short space of time had been visited upon the Ward family plunged the entire local area into one of sadness and disbelief. Hundreds called to the family home last week from far and wide to pay their respects.
There were emotional scenes at the family home at Landahussy Road, Lisnacreight, on Friday morning as the funeral cortège made its way to the local church. Many of his friends took it in turn to carry the coffin from the house to the hearse. It was led by the same red tractor Aodhán drove ahead of his own father Nishi's funeral last November. This time the driver was his cousin, Ciaran McNulty, who was accompanied on the short journey by Aodhán's sisters.
The village of Plumbridge also came to a standstill as local volunteers from Glenelly St Joseph's GFC marshalled the route and ensured the smooth final journey and allowed the huge congregation make its way to Sacred Heart Church uninterrupted.
Guard of honour
The guard of honour outside the church was made up from pupils from the nearby St Peter's Primary School, Drumragh Integrated College, the O'Kane School of Irish Dancing and staff from Waste Systems Ltd, the engineering firm owned by Aodhan's late father.
Chief celebrant at the mass, Fr Donnelly, welcomed the mourners, who had come from near and far and thanked them all on behalf of the family for being with them on that sad day to celebrate the requiem mass for Aodhán who he said "had met with such an untimely and tragic death".
He also welcomed his clerical colleague, Rev John Forbes PP., Gortin, who was the con-celebrant at the ceremony, and, in particular, Aodhán's school friends from Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh where he attended.
He said all were all there not only to offer their sympathies to Aodhán's mother, Jennifer, and sisters, Sinéad, Eimear and Fionnuala, but also to grandparents, Ann Ward and Jack and Patricia Doherty, as well as all his aunts, uncles, cousins and all his relations and friends.
At this stage Fr Donnelly invited mother, Jennifer, Sinéad, Eimear and Fionnuala to place a number of symbols of Aodhán's life at the front of the altar to illustrate the person he was.
Aodhán's cousin, Michelle McNulty, who conducted this part of the ceremony, explained the significance of each as the items were placed in front of the congregation.
She said Sinéad had brought a pillow which had been made from the material of her late father's Waste Systems shirt which Aodhán had organised to be made so that they could keep their late father, Nishi, in their hearts and arms. This also represented Aodhán's friendships with the Waste Systems staff. She also brought a Drumragh school tie to represent happy times with his school friends and hopes for the future, as well as support from the school that he received in times of need.
Love of farming
She explained Eimear brought Aodhán's shepherd's crook and cap representing his love of farming, his character and individuality and Fionnuala brought a picture of a lamb representing Aodhán's love of animals and a jewellery box which he had made for his mother. "This represented his many skills and creativity and illustrated his heart of gold."
She outlined how Jennifer carried up a poem and a photograph she took of the family cutting turf with the beautiful Glenelly scenery representing her son's love of the land and how he worked so hard.
One of his friends, Aidan Glavin, brought up an image of a bull that Aodhán had made to to show his entrepreneurial skills.
"It also shows his friendships with others who had helped him create it," she said.
The First Reading from the prophet, Isaiah, was by Drumragh Integrated College Year 11 pupils Yasmine Patterson-Nugent and Tia Sutherland while the second, a Letter from St Paul to the Romans, was read by Aodhán's cousin, Niamh Ward. She was assisted by Aodhán's mother, after she became emotionally upset halfway through her contribution. The Responsorial Psalm was performed by soloist, Mary Brines, who also sang all the other pieces throughout the service.
In his homily Fr Donnelly spoke of the sorrow of the occasion and how at times we didn't appreciate what we had until it was lost.
"How much truer that is when it is not an object, but when we lose a person and when that loss is irretrievable. It is impossible to describe the feeling that comes over one at such a time. The feeling that somehow, in an instant of time, everything is changed and nothing will ever be quite the same again. Tomorrow will never again be like yesterday.
"The loss of someone we love and who meant a lot to us, is a shattering experience, all the more when it is suddenly and tragically. It seems to rob the whole future of happiness and even of meaning.
"It is how many of us feel today. It was how Aodhán felt from the fateful day in November when he found his father suddenly taken from him. His father was his soul-mate, they were kindred spirits and he idolises his father. Aodhán was everything Nishi could have wished for in a son and Nishi was everything Aodhán could have wished for in a father.
"They were inseparable and so the grief of loss which he experienced must have gone beyond with what he could have coped with. Aodhán was still a child, not yet formed into the stature of the man he was going to be," he said.
Fr Donnelly added no one knew what went on in another's mind.
"But had we known of Aodhán's sense of desolation and depth of grief we might have reassured him that brighter days lay ahead. We could have reassured him and encouraged him that life has its ups and downs and that days of sorrow do pass as all things pass.
"But when you're young, you expect answers to come quickly. The impatience of youth can lead to error of thought and of action, waiting for an answer or thinking that some things can only be settled with time, these are outside the imaginings of youth. Simply put, you cannot put an old head on young shoulders. The thoughts of an old man are not those of a young man."
He said they knew as adults that thinking changed with time and what seemed insurmountable resolved with the passing of time and seasons.
"But the best of us can be overwhelmed by grief and loss. There is no accounting how any one of us would react if we were faced with the sorrow which Aodhán experienced when his world was turned upside down last November."
Fr Donnelly continued: "Aodhán was only a lad not even at the threshold of manhood and yet was given an experience of loss that he should not have known until he was gifted with many more years and the wisdom that comes with age. But life is not fair and depth and the experience of grief and loss is no respecter of age."
He concluded by saying they prayed for Aodhán's peace and happiness and that God would heal and soothe his family's grieving hearts.
The Prayers of the Faithful were read by Aodhán's mother and sisters while the offertory gifts were presented at the altar by several of his cousins.
Fr Donnelly, again assisted by Fr Forbes, presided at the graveside in the adjoining cemetery where the late Aodhán was laid to rest beside his beloved father.

If you are affected by any issues in this article contact Childline on 0800 1111or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.


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