Note: There is a picture of a casket below, so stop reading now if that bothers you.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was excited about my first full Irish wedding and now, I'm sad to say, that I've been to my first Irish funeral. Derek's friend, Kevin, left us way too soon. He was only 30.
From what I know of Kevin, he was an amateur boxer, a hard working electrician, and quite a good friend to many. I'm always amazed at how people can have so many close friends. It simplys shows his love of his friends and, in my opinion, the quality of his friends as he spent most of his free time with them. Apparently he was one for going on holiday as Derek said there was often a time that you'd wake up the next day with a hangover realizing that you gave Kevin a deposit for a trip to Spain at the pub the night before.
He was a family man as well. I was once told that he saw his younger sister out at too young an age and chased her home. That's one protective brother.
The funeral was a true tribute. Here they often have the wake at the home of the deceased and if you'd like to have a proper goodbye, you can have that in private instead of in a funeral home with everyone watching on. Following a day of goodbyes, family and friends walk behind the casket up to the church, where the deceased stays overnight (see http://dublinadventure.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html for my shock the first time I saw this). Apparently a few hundred people did this.
The funeral was the next morning and the enormous church was packed. The people were filing out. Some of Kevin's football team read, one of his closest friends wrote and read a poem and his sister spoke. What stands out for me the most was the poem read - I was amazed that, in this friend's grief, he wrote such an amazing poem that even made a few people laugh. He spoke of Kevin well; you could tell he knew him through and through. The last line hurt your heart and went something like, "We know you're in heaven and Kevin sleep tight. The final bell has rung and there's no more need to fight." Maybe it was a reference to his amateur boxer days, maybe to the general fight of life. Whatever the meaning, it touched many people.
The casket is carried out and this specific church and funeral home uses a beautiful horse-led carraige and in because I'm really tacky and want to share, I snuck in a picture. The guy driving the carraige is straight out of Dracula!
The cemetary is HUGE! I've seen some large and packed cemetaries, but this broke a new record. I've been told 4 people can fit in one grave site, so the population is even greater than it looks.
If I looked at 10 tombstones that day, I'd guess 8 of them were 40 years or younger - way too young to die. I'm hoping that was just a coincidence and that the average age is much higher. I don't think I'll be doing an analysis anytime soon.
Apologies for the really sad post, but I wanted to honor Kevin however I could. You're sadly missed and will never be forgotten.