'It was an honour when you asked me if you could call me Dad' - Stepfather's emotional tribute as 'heroic' soldier laid to rest
Glowing tributes have been paid to a "heroic" young soldier who was laid to rest with full military honours in his native Cork, following his sudden death at his barracks last week.
Defence Forces Chaplain Fr Brian Whelan told mourners at Private Daniel Donougher's funeral in Mallow, Co Cork, he had "followed his dream" of serving with the army, and was "willing to put himself in harm's way, to defend, protect, and serve his country".
"This church is full, full of grief, but full of pride," Fr Whelan said.
Pte Donougher, (23), from Beechgrove, Castlepark, Mallow, was pronounced dead at University Hospital Limerick shortly after he was discovered unconscious in his bunk at Sarsfield Barracks, last Thursday. Earlier in the day he had played a five-a-side soccer match, but complained of feeling unwell and retired to bed.
In an emotional tribute, Daniel's stepfather Philip Donougher told mourners: "My worst nightmare came true last Thursday."
In a touching letter to Daniel, he said: "You let me into your life when you were seven years old, and that's something I will always cherish. It was an honour and a privilege when you asked me if you could call me Dad."
Daniel's devastated sister Ninette sang a haunting hymn to her beloved brother.
Fr Whelan said the defence forces was "united" in grief with the Donougher family.
Turning to Daniel's heartbroken parents Philip and Daniela, Fr Whelan told them: "If I had a magic wand, I'd make this go away in a heartbeat."