Sent off with a song: a fitting tribute to tragic Paddy
He adored music over his 90 years. So it was fitting yesterday that Paddy Lyons undertook his final journey, from St Mary's Church in Ballysaggart, west Waterford, to the graveside of his late parents, to the strains of traditional music.
As his coffin was lowered into the rain-sodden ground, it was also appropriate that more than 200 mourners, some weeping, broke into a rousing version of 'The Fields of Athenry'.
The pensioner, whose death on February 25 sparked a Garda murder investigation, was remembered as a truly unique Irish character.
Margaret Fitzgerald, speaking on behalf of the extended Lyons family, said the retired farmer was "a unique, intelligent man, honest, kind and humble".
She said his death had cast "a great shadow" over the entire community. "But he will live in our hearts forever."
Other mourners remembered a man who insisted on dancing in turned-down wellies at the local Christmas party just three months ago.
Fr Michael Cullinan told the mourners that their community was left traumatised and angry by "the cowardly" murder of a vulnerable pensioner.
Fr Cullinan warned that life in Ballysaggart will never be the same. "(We feel) anger at such a cowardly deed on a defenceless man," he said.
Mr Lyons was buried beside his parents, John and Nora, in the cemetery directly behind the church.
"I wish to acknowledge the deep trauma and the hurt suffered by all of us by Paddy's murder," Fr Cullinan said.
"We have to cope with this trauma, this shock, this disbelief and this fear at the manner of Paddy's death has visited upon us. We will have to dig deep into our own humanity to support one another because we cannot talk about normality again. That is gone."
Fr Cullinan noted that Mr Lyons was a man of simple tastes - he loved his community, music, his neighbours and his home.
The offertory gifts to reflect his life included a sack, a piece of turf, a music tape and his Rosary beads.
He said that deep respect was underlined by how Mr Lyons's neighbours and family had shouldered his coffin.
Mr Lyons was found dead at his Loughleagh home outside Ballysaggart, on February 25.