Two years ago, on February 6th, we found my younger brother had died – of a heart attack as we found out later. Pretty shocking for a 46 year old, fit man.
What follows is the eulogy I delivered for Finbar. I tried to give a flavour of just what a character he was, and how much he was loved by so many people around him.
I’ve held this for a while, but I wanted to share it on Finbar’s second anniversary.
May he rest in peace.
Before I begin, I have some words here from Jenny in Australia.
We just can’t believe you are really gone Fin. I will never forget all the magical times we shared. So much adventure and so many gorgeous memories. So many times you brought laughter to us all, and fun and music. I still think of you whenever I hear Garth Brooks or Neil Young or Thin Lizzy, your incredible singing voice and your infectious laugh. So blessed to have been able to call you a friend. So incredibly sad we won’t be able to meet again from across the seas. What a void you have left in all our hearts. I will miss you until the day I die also. Yours truly. Jenny.
I would like to begin with a few ‘thank yous’, and some apologies in advance. I’m going to name a few people here, where I can remember the names. To those whom I have left out, and there were so many of you who helped – I’m sorry that I have left you out.
From the moment we found Finbar had died, people have been amazing.
The guards who arrived to the house were considerate, patient, understanding and kind. They helped us start a difficult journey that has brought us to today, and a journey that has been filled with the thoughts, prayers, and kind moments of so many people.
I’d like to thank Dr. Motherway who came out as soon as he could after we contacted him on Tuesday morning.
Within hours, a group of Finbar’s friends had travelled to the Council yard in Killeagh and liberated a trailer load of tarmac, found a low-loader, a lot of shovels, and plenty of willing hands to fill the pot-holes in our road, clean the place up, and make the difficult journey to meet Finbar, and all the rest of us, that little bit easier.
I can’t begin to name you, gentlemen, but your kindness and generosity has been special.
Deckie Lee, Pat Walsh, Liam Fitzgerald. Finbar was so close to you and would be delighted that you were so much a part of the past few days.
Thank you to the council, they provided a road sweeper and helped make the yards good enough for parking all the cars that passed through.
I don’t think the home farm ever had staffing levels like it did in the past 4 days. Thank you so much lads – what you did eased the burden on Mark and Dad.
Inside the house of Mark and Maura generosity abounded. Christine brought a burco boiler and an industrial volume of cups. One of Finbar’s friends arrived with trays of sandwiches. People brought candles, cakes and plenty of crazy stories of the kind of things that Finbar got up to. Elaine has been a star in the kitchen
Trish has been wonderful, taking care of all of our children for hours at a time. Others were willing to provide beds for strangers who had travelled. People have been willing to be taxi drivers, people were willing to just stand patiently and be a shoulder to cry on.
What you all have done is wonderful, and a tribute to just how many lives Finbar touched.
I’d like to thank Colin Bullman and the staff from Egan’s funeral home. They have been so patient, sensitive and calm – a huge help to us trying to figure out what to do next.
I’d like to thank Canon Browne who came out to us on Tuesday. Canon, your sensitivity and care was very much appreciated. I’d like to thank Barry Fitzgerald for organising the church, chairs and mats, to Ann Keniry for the flowers. I’d like to thank our musicians today. St. Augustine said ‘Who sings once prays twice’. Finbar loved music, and would have been very grateful for what you have done to bring beauty and music to our day.
I’d like to thank Fr. Tim who has been a friend for years, and who has helped us over the past few days. I would like to thank the other priests who are with us today. Fr. Pat, Canon Browne, Fr. Damian, and Fr. Eamonn who has been a friend of our family for a number of years.
I would like to thank the hundreds of people who came to Mark & Maura’s house over the past 3 days. I’d like to thank all of those of you who travelled to be with us and support us today. A special thank you to those of you who travelled long distances.
In our thoughts today are those who can’t be with us. Patrick O’Donoghue, Helen, Breda, Anthony, Nora and Josie. We know that we are in their thoughts, just as they are in ours.
We think of those who are in far countries who would have wanted to be with us today.
Finbar, the King of Youth, Peter Pan, aged, 46, 36, or 26. Finbar was full of life and full of light. The man with that smirk, always ready to play.
He was a light that shone brightly, and brought joy, laughs and fun to a lot of people’s lives.
How do you sum up a life like this?
In the early 1990’s Finbar joined the Killeagh Exodus to Australia with the working visa scheme. What may have been the high point of this was his short career on a ranch as the only fella working alongside a load of women. Finbar worked from horseback, minding the cattle, and developed a love of going up in the helicopter any time he could.
While in Australia he bought a touring bike, with the intention of a big tour and shipping the bike back to Ireland. An accident with a random Kangaroo put an end to the trip, the bike and the kangaroo itself.
Finbar ended up in hospital.
A sign of the friendships he built is that Marty & Liz, new lifelong friends from Australia, flew to where he was in hospital and brought him to their home for recuperation.
This accident was only one of a series of broken bones. I think the count we came up with was 18 breaks in total.
Morris O’Connor says he and Finbar used to compare x-ray sheets for a while.
He didn’t allow the accident to cut his trip short, Monica flew out to visit – he and she had a very close bond.
As part of the trip they flew to New Zealand and back. As part of the trip, things were going so well that they decided to announce to the cabin crew that they had just got engaged. Of course the newly engaged couple were treated to free champagne for the rest of the 4 hours of so of the flight.
The results were predictable.
Back in Ireland Finbar never lost the wandering bug. Mark tells a story of one time Finbar knew someone who was relocating from Spain and had 2 bikes that needed to travel with him. Finbar flew there so they could make a road trip of it together.
Finbar loved travel, and regularly collected little things from the different places he had been. His house has loads of little souvenirs and relics of the places he has been.
I mentioned how Finbar built friendships. One of the things that struck me was that a common thing people have said over the past few days is that ‘Finbar always had time for people’. He always took time out to phone ( and he liked to make phone calls…), to visit, or to stop on the road.
As with Dad, Finbar went to funerals. Not because he had to, but because he cared. He cared deeply about people, and would go and spend time with them. No words were needed. Just being there was a help.
Finbar was a gent who never bad mouthed people, and didn’t bear grudges. He loved animals, and the relationship with Rufus the Goat is going to become the stuff of legend.
If you haven’t met Rufus, he’s about this high, and will eat pretty much anything. He likes to buck, and has scared more than a few walkers in his time. Apologies to Ann & Noreen Power.
Rufus would follow Fin around the farm, and Louise has a photo of Rufus putting his head on Finbar’s shoulder, looking at him. Both with a similar beard.
Finbar would try anything. I have a memory as a teenager of Finbar & Mark replacing the rear axle on an old car we had. No instructruction manual, just the two of them figuring it out as they went. Mark & Finbar were closer in age than the rest of us, and as kids they were inseparable, except for the times when they wanted to kill each other.
I was saying he’d try anything.
There’s a photo somewhere of Finbar rodeo riding in Australia. He tried paragliding, bike racing, kayaking, shooting, deer cooking, swimming, cycling, guitar, anything. With Micháel Fitzgerald he got to act in a little film. He even sang if you were persuasive enough and had the right liquid bribery handy. He lived life to the full.
But, what ever story you tell about Finbar, it always comes back to the relationships that he built. He wasn’t always a positive influence – Breda Budds had to have words with him after keeping Therese and Irene out until 6AM one morning. He spent many late nights in the company of the Kenirys, he loved Louise and was a great fan of her voice.
Finbar didn’t worry about going to mass every week. However he did have a very deep spirituality. He would say the Rosary, and he never failed to bless himself passing a graveyard, it was just one of the ways he showed a connection to something deeper that affects all of our lives.
Finbar adored Thomas, Lena, Andrea, Daniella and Molly. And, they loved him. He was the uncle who was larger than life for them. He was generous and playful to a fault. Try and get a small child down from the high from playing with Finbar and you’ll know what I mean.
I started by saying that Finbar was full of light. 2 ½ years ago that light shone ever brighter. Louise, Finbar loved you, he adored you. You brought so much joy to him that he shone more brightly still and it made all of us so happy that you were part of his life.
The journeys you made together were good for both of you, and we all loved seeing you coming down to visit. I know from speaking to your dad, Seamus, that your family loved Finbar as well, and saw just how much he loved you.
He was, though, more practical than romantic.
Girls love bags. So when it came to Louise’s birthday, Finbar got her a tool bag. She now has a wide range of tools, but nowhere to keep any makeup. But, Louise, being the special person she is, saw the joke and loved him still.
Finbar had one of his dreams come through last August. He & Louise hosted a mini-festival down the glen behind our house with the Eirball charity campervan run. It was an amazing success. Yes, we all got soaked a dozen times over with the wind & rain and Yes, many people had to be towed out of the fields.
But, a night of music, snacks and drinks with friends around a series of barrel fires and sheltering under gazebos made the night incredible & memorable. It was brilliant.
Louise, you have been a light in our lives for 2 ½ years, and know that you will always have a place in our hearts and in our homes.
Finbar lived a full life. It was a life packed with fun, with chat, with friends.
He was a light in our lives, and our lives are that bit poorer without him.
But our faith teaches us that that isn’t the end of Finbar’s story.
We believe that Finbar has gone to God, to be with mam. And, as Maura said, she may have a few words for Finbar when he gets there.
As we gather today, and in the days ahead we will share stories of Finbar. We’ll remember him sometimes with tears, and sometimes with laughter. And as sure as night turns into day, our lives will become brighter again with the memory of the special gift that was my brother Finbar.
May You Rest In Peace
And may your soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace
After we leave the church today we will head to Killeagh. We are going to park the cars outside Killeagh Church.
We will follow Finbar as his friends carry his coffin to the new Graveyard on the Cork Road and Finbar will be laid to rest beside Mam.
Afterwards, I would like to invite you all to the Walter Raleigh Hotel in Youghal where we have food provided. Please come, and bring stories of Finbar. We would love to spend time with you.
We will have cards and pens on each table, and would love if you could write down your little stories of Finbar for us to share and keep.
That will be the end of the official stuff. But I’m guessing the Mt. Uniake could get a bit busy this Friday evening.
I’d like to finish with a prayer that I have always liked.
O Lord support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then Lord, in your mercy give us a safe home a holy rest and peace everlasting Amen.
John, I’m so sorry to read about your brother. My condolences. It’s a lovely tribute to your brother. Mind yourself.
Thank you Tom.