A “very fine young man” was lost when John Hegarty died last Sunday, mourners at his funeral heard on Thursday.
St Mary’s Church in Cockhill was packed to overflowing as family, friends and the local community gathered to say a final farewell to the 21-year-old, tragically killed in a road traffic collision in Burnfoot.
If numbers alone could heal, then the massive outpouring of love, solidarity and support for John’s family during this past few days would have expelled their every sorrow and dried their last tear.Fr John Walsh CC St Mary’s Church, Cockhill
Chief celebrant Fr John Walsh evoked tears and laughter as he spoke about the Buncrana man, describing him as a “laid back chap,” who loved music and singing, was “exceptionally sociable,” fascinated by cars and close to his family.
Mourners heard how the “spade and shovel man” who “loved working on site” had been employed all over the country, as well as most recently in the Shetland Islands and had been hoping to go to Canada.
Fr Walsh expressed his sympathies and that of concelebrants Fr Neil McGoldrick, Monsignor Pat Lynch and the local community with John’s “lovely family;” his parents Mary and Raymond, siblings Michelle, Siobhan, Deborah, Stephen, Rachel, Claire, Ryan and Ronan, his grandmother Annie Walker, nephews and nieces, extended family and his many friends.
He also told all the young people gathered how they are “not indestructible” and how “life itself is fragile.”
Fr Walsh spoke of how he had been involved in a collision at the age of 25, in which the driver was left paralysed.
He said: “I thought I was indestructible. I learned a lesson then and I’ve never forgotten about it. Don’t glorify motorcars or vehicles of any kind. It’s important you see they have their use but they can be lethal.”
Fr Walsh noted how John had been killed on the 40th anniversary of the death of his uncle Joseph, who died at just 14-years-old when he was struck by a car on the same road.
Along with the huge number of mourners at yesterday’s funeral, hundreds had also visited his home in recent days, many of them young people.
“If numbers alone could heal, then the massive outpouring of love, solidarity and support for John’s family during this past few days would have expelled their every sorrow and dried their last tear,” said Fr Walsh.
Fr Walsh added that the Inishowen community is “in shock” at the untimely death of John Hegarty and his “lovely family” are shattered.
Fr John Walsh, CC, told those gathered that while they were grateful his friends Lee and Seosamh survived Sunday’s road traffic collision, “John did not,” and the community was in mourning.
“We are here in overflowing numbers to try and comfort John’s family and to try to comfort ourselves,” he said.
Fr Walsh told the 21-year-old’s family and friends to lean on the “massive outpouring of love, solidarity and support” of the community and read it as their “testimonial” to John.
He said all those who knew John had lost “a fine young man.”
“We lost a future that should have been, a dream that could have been and a promise that might have been realised to the benefit of many,” he added.
Fr Walsh told how John had “loads of friends,” and was an “easy going” young man who “lived for the moment” and got his love of music from his father.
He drew laughter as he added: “He’d no taste - he loved singing Johnny Cash. He sang down the phone at people and he sang to his mother in her bedroom before she went to sleep. His father used to tell him: ‘get out’ and he’d say: “I’m not in singing to you, I’m singing to my mother.”
Fr Walsh said John would also state that “nothing is truly lost until mammy can’t find it,” and “loved his appearance,” being conscious of his hairstyle and careful with his clothes.
He was described also a “good looking” young man who attracted much female attention, but was “modest.”
He also “knew everybody old and young and that was evident at the wake when old people would tell his mother and his father about the kindnesses he showed them,” said Fr Walsh.
As John Hegarty’s coffin was taken from St Mary’s Church in Cockhill, the Johnny Cash song ‘Walk the Line’ was sung.
He was laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard.