Video: James Nolan laid to rest as Robbie Keane leads tributes in LA Galaxy match
THOUSANDS of people brought Blessington to a standstill today at the funeral mass for Irish fan James Nolan (21).
Irish goalkeeper Shay Given and FAI chief John Delaney were among the mourners and both the President and the Taoiseach were represented.
Meanwhile, Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane led tributes yesterday when he held up an LA Galaxy jersey with the word RIP James Nolan on it
Traffic came to a halt as mourners lined both sides of the main street to form a guard of honour last night as pallbearers carried the young engineering student's coffin from his family home in Blessington.
Members of the Blessington Lakes football club, where James played soccer, were among more than 2,000 friends, family and neighbours gathered at the Church of Our Lady.
Local parish priest Fr Tim Murphy spoke of the unspeakable drowning tragedy that has left the tight-knit community and nation devastated.
A simple wreath, spelling out James' nickname 'Jam' in white daisies, adorned the altar where he lay in repose ahead of his final journey today.
Mourners openly wept as Fr Murphy spoke of how Mr Nolan was taken from his beloved family long before his time.
He said that Mr Nolan was baptised at the church, had his first communion and confirmation there, and "we would have expected to marry you here and baptise your children's children, James.
"We didn't expect to see you here so soon. We are all bereft."
A steady stream of friends and loved ones have been calling into Mr Nolan's family home at the Carrig Glen Green housing estate over the weekend to comfort Mr Nolan's parents Essie and Jimmy, his brother Andy and sister Suzanne.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, Robbie Keane provided a very public tribute to the soccer-mad fan.
After scoring a goal in the 30th minute of a game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps, Mr Keane ran over to the club's bench where he was handed a Galaxy shirt that read "RIP James Nolan" on the back. It's understood that he has donated the shirt to the Nolan family.
He said: "I called his father today to send my condolences and to say that my thoughts were with him and the family.
"It was just a gesture because the Irish people are very close and they stick with each other through good times and bad times. He was a big, big soccer fan and it was a shame, so it was just a show of respect really," he told reporters following the Galaxy's 3-0 victory.
Mr Nolan was buried at Burgage cemetery in the town following requiem Mass at 11am today. The popular young man's body was recovered from a river in the Polish town of Bydgosczc last Wednesday.
A massive search was launched by Mr Nolan's friends, Polish police and senior gardai who were on duty in Poland for the Euro 2012 tournament after Mr Nolan vanished.
He had become separated from his friends following a night out on the town as they were preparing to travel with the Green Army to Poznan the following day for Ireland's match against Italy.
CCTV footage later showed him turning down a poorly lit area by the river, where his body was later found by divers after he apparently fell in and drowned.