Limerick students in tears as final respects are paid to Ogie

Up and coming rugby player, just 17, passed away in his sleep on New Year's Day

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Limerick students in tears as final respects are paid to Ogie

Crescent College students formed a guard of honour for Ogie

STUDENTS openly wept as they paid their last respects to Ogie Barrett, the 17-year-old student who died this week in a suspected case of Sudden Death Adult syndrome.

A guard of honour of pupils clad in the navy uniforms of Crescent College Comprehensive stretched down Church Road to his family home in Raheen as people tried to come to terms with the heartbreaking and untimely loss of the up-and-coming rugby player.

Ogie – the youngest of three sons to Ita and the late Ray – was found dead in his bed by his mother Ita early on New Year’s Day morning.

Having died peacefully in his sleep, it is understood he lost his life to Sudden Death Adult Syndrome.

At his funeral Mass in the Raheen Church this Wednesday, warm tributes were paid to the young man who touched so many people’s lives.

Fr Jim Maher, who led the Mass, is chaplain at Crescent College, and he taught young Ogie up until Christmas.

“He was a lovely, lovely gentle presence in class. His facial expressions spoke volumes, and it was a real pleasure to teach him,” the priest said.

Fr Maher also recalled how Ogie had expressed a preference to serve in the direct provision centre in Meelick on his social placement “to understand the story of people who are dislocated coming to Ireland and how he could help them.

On the Bank Holiday Monday just gone, students gathered at the Dooradoyle school after news of Ogie’s shocking and incomprehensible death filtered through.

“I have never seen anything like it in my life before. There was a long and respectful silence. It was deafening – you could hear a pin drop. Tears rolled down the cheeks. Nobody said anything. The language of pain, sorrow and incomprehension,” Fr Maher told mourners.

Leading the coffin into the church were his brothers Paul and Joe, and heartbroken mother Ita.

A simple black-and-white picture of Ogie in a suit at his friend Muirne’s wedding last summer sat on top of his coffin.

“He liked to maintain a certain image,” his devastated brother Joe – who is working as a trainee teacher at the Crescent – smiled.

And Fr Maher said, to some laughter from the congregation, that at that particular wedding, “I can bet the mothers were eyeing him up and down as a potential son in law”.

“The question which is the elephant in the church today is why? Why, why, why has this happened? That’s the question some of us would like to screech and scream out to God. Why did you let this happen,” the priest asked.

Struggling to hold back tears, Joe said: “We are here under horrible circumstances. People say there is no such thing as ‘perfect’. But Ogie is as close as they came. He had clear morals and always did the right thing. I am heartbroken to have lost my brother, and my best friend, and I will always keep him with me.”

Ogie’s aunt Nora brought a variety of gifts to the altar, which reflected his life and personality.

These included a bar of Hershey’s chocolate, a piece of Lego, and a Family Guy DVD.

”He used to love TV, and used to sit through Desperate Housewives just to keep his mother happy,” Nora smiled.

Ogie’s death is the second tragedy to fall upon the family, who hail from the small Co Kerry village of Causeway.

Their father Ray died suddenly almost three years ago.

Among the mourners at the funeral were school principal Karin Fleming, and chairperson of the board of management Helen O’Donnell.

He is survived by mum Ita, brothers Joe and Paul, aunts Nora, Javinta, Kay and Jill, Paul’s fiancee Aoife and Joe’s girlfriend Kayleigh.