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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Parents found touching hand-written note by their late son Thomas Keaney

Geraldine Gittens

Published 13/01/2014 | 09:48

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Thomas Keaney
Thomas Keaney

The heartbroken parents of a man who died after he was allegedly assaulted in Australia, found a tender note written by their son which showed how beautiful he was, his sister has said.

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Lauren Keaney said the note which was written by her younger brother Thomas when he was just nine years-old, demonstrates his loving character.

The little boy's note said he was sorry that his phone had sounded while he was in mass.

Mr Keaney, 23, from Ballyconneely, Co Galway, died in Perth on December 28, after his life support was switched off.

He was struck on the side of the head in an incident outside a kebab shop in the city on December 17.

A 22-year-old man, Abbas Yahya Al Jrood, 22, of Girrawheen, has been charged over the alleged assault and is due back in court today.

Lauren told independent.ie: "He wrote the note when he was a boy apologising for his phone going off in mass... and as my parents were getting ready for a wedding one day, my dad found it in the pocket of his suit."

"He wanted to be a priest when he was a boy and he used to go to Sunday classes in the States where we lived once a week."

"Obviously [his wish to become a priest] changed. But it was a very touching note."

Mr Keaney had been in Australia for 13 months and on the day he was allegedly assaulted he received his second Working Holiday Visa.

While he had initially made a good recovery and had even spoken with his family back home, his condition deteriorated on Christmas Eve.

His worried parents Ann and Tom had to wait until St Stephen's Day before they could get a flight to Perth.

His friends had kept a vigil by his bedside, taking it in turns to stay with him until his parents arrived on St Stephen's Day.

"I'm his oldest sister. We're going to miss him so much. We're broken. He loved his Mam and Dad."

"He was hoping to come back to start college in September. His whole passion in life was fitness and he wanted to become a personal trainer and help people."

"He was heavier when he was a child and he fought childhood obesity. He had gone to school for a year to study fitness but his friends had decided they'd take off and travel the world [and Thomas went with them]."

"We obviously never want to see someone travel so far away but we were happy for him. And he was telling us it was a beautiful place. And all the coffee shops and cake shops have been telling my parents that he had a good life over there, we believe he was happy."

Lauren added: "The support has been unbelieveable for him. He was really a true gentleman. You couldn't say enough about him."

Lauren said that tragically Thomas was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"We were two peas in a pod. He was a protective brother even though I was the older sister, and now my other brother has taken on that role."

Around 400 people attended a memorial mass in Perth for Thomas on January 2. Thomas’s friends took up gifts including a staff shirt from The Cure Tavern where he worked as a barman and a White Sox jersey in honour of his favourite baseball team.

Tom and Ann are currently making the heartbreaking trip home with Thomas's remains.

Thomas's remains will arrive into Dublin tomorrow afternoon. The family have said that their house will be strictly private tomorrow night, but mourners are welcome to the house from 2pm on Wednesday. Thomas will be buried after 12pm mass on Friday.

The Thomas Fund has been set up in Galway to assist the family. Anyone who wishes to assist the family can do so via the Thomas Fund Facebook page or the Thomas Fund, AIB Clifden. Account number: 10129024 sort code 93-73-98.

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