Monday 29 December 2014

Schoolfriends' guard of honour at boy's funeral just metres from where he died

Greg Harkin

Published 17/03/2014 | 02:30

Children from Crana College line out the entrance of Cockhill Church as fellow student Callum Dale's remains arrive fro his funeral in Buncrana, Co Donegal Photo Brian McDaid
Children from Crana College line out the entrance of Cockhill Church as fellow student Callum Dale's remains arrive from his funeral in Buncrana, Co Donegal Photo: Brian McDaid

A 13-YEAR-OLD boy with Asperger Syndrome who died in a horrific road accident was a bright, intelligent and loving child at the centre of his parents' world, a priest has told mourners.

Callum Dale had run out of his home in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and onto a road where his dad Peter tried to save him.

Mr Dale suffered horrific injuries when he and his son were hit by a passing car.

Mum Deirdre had witnessed the crash.

Mr Dale was released from hospital yesterday to attend his son's funeral at Cockhill Church, just a few hundred metres from the crash scene.

Schoolfriends of Callum's from both Crana College, where he was a first-year pupil, and his former primary school St Oran's, formed a guard of honour.

Callum's mum Deirdre, aided by the boy's aunts and cousins, helped to take his coffin inside the chapel.

Dad Peter was taken into the church in a wheelchair, weeping throughout the Mass.

The boy's teachers huddled together to comfort each other as Fr John Walsh told mourners the church hadn't been so packed since Callum was confirmed there 11 months ago.

"Callum was a very special person," said Fr Walsh. "He was a very bright and intelligent young man with a great inquiring mind."

He said an example of this was when a friend of the family who is blind had visited his school with her guide dog to talk to the pupils.

"The children asked her many questions. Most of the questions were about her dog.

"Callum put a different question to her. He asked her, 'When you go to sleep and dream, can you see in your dreams?'."

Fr Walsh said Callum had also questioned a rule about absolute silence at Crana College. "Callum told the principal, Liam Galbraith, that the rule doesn't make sense because silence is absolute," said the priest.

"It shows you just how highly intelligent this young man was. He loved his mum and his dad and his family. He faced many challenges. Underneath he was a beautiful person.

"Deirdre says their lives will never be the same again," said the priest. "He was her whole life and she had fought for him every day. The three of them have been inseparable.

"Both Deirdre and Peter feel a huge gaping emptiness in their lives. Callum has given them so much. His absolute need for his mother brought out reserves of strength which she never thought she possessed."

The Mass was attended by members of local autism support groups who had helped Callum over the past decade.

Prayers were said for the motorist who had struck Callum and his dad, as well as for those who attended the scene.

Gardai have asked for three pedestrians who they believe were in the area at the time of the accident to contact them.

Irish Independent

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