THE sister of a young man who died in Perth following an assault read a touching letter she had penned to her big brother at his funeral.
Leeann Keaney paid tribute to her brother Thomas at his funeral mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Roundstone Co Galway.
She told how she had been eagerly awaiting Thomas' return to home but had never expected it to happen in the tragic way it did.
She added that while it was comforting to know that he would forever more be by her side, what she longed for most was to hear his voice and his laughter.
Speaking about how they had both been rushing ahead with their separate lives, Leeann wept as she told of missing phonecalls from her brother while he was in Perth.
"Even though our conversations were scarce it now makes what we talked about all the more important. I avoided so many phonecalls, I declined opportunities to speak to you, those precious moments were wasted. I'm so sorry Thomas I thought we had more time," she said.
Telling how her big brother had looked out for her, Leeann added; "We had a special understanding, words didn't have to be said. I felt your love, I hope you felt mine."
Thomas Keaney (23) from Ballyconneely in Co Galway died in Perth on December 28 after his life support was switched off. He had suffered a serious head injury in an assault on December 17.
His parents Ann and Tom were accompanied by their children Lauren, Leeann and Brian as they celebrated their son's life at his funeral mass today.
Thomas's favourite songs were played by his friends while gifts to remember his life told of his love of sport. A White Sox plaque from the baseball team he had followed while growing up in Chicago, a Galway jersey for the new home he had found here when he was a young teenager and a protein cup to recall his love of fitness.
Following funeral mass Thomas was buried in Gurteen cemetery.