TWO LIMERICK communities gathered under “heartbreaking” circumstances this Friday morning, to lay Willie Lynch, a murder victim, to rest.
The Pallaskenry man’s funeral took place at St Joseph’s Church, Ballybrown - the village where the 35-year-old grew up before moving further west as a teenager.
Mr Lynch was found at his home on Main Street, Pallaskenry, last Saturday, having suffered fatal injuries.
“Wherever any of us were last Friday morning, there’s no way we could have imagined that we would be here today,” said chief celebrant Fr Michael Cussen, opening the Mass at the church where Willie was baptised.
Family and friends of the popular sportsman arrived at the church wearing Liverpool jerseys, Bon Jovi T-shirts and Kildimo-Pallaskenry jumpers. Tractors flanked the church gates, and Liverpool scarves billowed from their wing mirrors in the wind.
The gifts brought forward represented some of Willie’s many passions in life. A hurling and football team photo, a Bon Jovi DVD, a Liverpool jersey, a model tractor and a pool cue were brought to the altar by family members and friends.
Those attending the funeral were also asked to “remember in a special way Willie’s brother Gerard”.
Paying tribute to his friend, fellow Pallaskenry man Brian Barry spoke of Willie’s sporting achievements and kind spirit.
“Willie was the type of character who created a lifetime of memories in such a short space of time,” he said.
A “man of simple pleasures”, the friend told of memories playing cards, soccer and the GAA, as well as Willie’s love for farming machinery. He would often, the church heard, be seen at the edge of a field, observing the silage contractors at work, often creating videos to upload to social media.
Besides sport, “one of his biggest loves in life was Bon Jovi”, and songs by the band played out during the service.
Fr Cussen pointed out during the service that the church’s crib was sitting at the foot of the crucifix - “a vivid reminder that in life, love and suffering are never too far apart”.
“A double sword of grief has pierced your heart Helen, as mother to Willie and Gerard. A double sword of grief has pierced the heart of all who knew Willie and brother Gerard. Helen, your heart is broken but you are surrounded by loving support,” Fr Cussen told the gathering.
After the Mass, Mr Lynch’s funeral proceeded to Kilkeedy cemetery.
“Dear Willie, this isn’t goodbye, it’s a ‘see you later’,” said friend Mr Barry. “Rest well our friend, and remember, you will never walk alone.”