'Grief is the price you pay for love'
two rural communities gather in their hundreds to bid a tearful farewell to two popular young men
A green and white Claas tractor led the funeral cortege of 22-year-old Declan McCormack into Ballyrush cemetery.
Many of his friends walked the final mile alongside the hearse as it slowly drove toward the graveyard.
Days before, the young man, whose biggest love was farming, had been using the tractor on a nearby farm.
Declan (pictured) from Ballinarry, and his friend Owen Kelly (20), from Dromahair, died in a fatal crash in Roughan, Sooey on March 2nd.
Hundreds of mourners crowded Highwood church for the funeral mass last Wednesday.
A letter was read out from Jordan Charters, the back-seat passenger in the car, who is recovering in hospital.
It said: "Hi Declan, as I'm lying here in this horrible place, I'm waiting for you to walk in the door.
"You were one of the best lads around, I can only imagine how hard this is on your family.
"You will always be in my mind. I can't think of a better guy to keep Owen company up there. Keep out of trouble, you messer.
Fr. Lawrence Cullen, chief celebrant, said that it was not normal for parents to bury their children.
He said that Declan, in his short life, had been a lovely, young man and a friend to many.
He told the congregation: "Throngs of people turned up at the funeral home and the church was at full capacity last night for the removal.
"The life of Declan ended tragically on Saturday evening.
"On extremely sad occasions such as this, when death is tragic, it is the bereaved who are the centre."
Fr. Cullen said that the members of Declan's family, his father, Dermot; mother, Laura; sisters Emer and Celline; brother, Enda and grandmother, Bridget, "would be feeling quite lost".
"Grief is the price one has to pay for love," he added.
He said to the family: "May the love and support of friends carry you through the dark days."
During the homily, the priest recalled the McCormack family telling him that they have fond memories of their son and brother.
Friends brought up two gifts during the ceremony that reflected the young man's hobbies.
One was a green toy tractor and trailer, the other a pair of football boots.
Padraig McCormack, Declan's uncle, spoke of his nephew after Communion. He said that people were talking about the memories they had in recent days.
"Enda said that when they were children, they had a toy tractor with a digger beside it.
"Declan always had to be the driver of the tractor and Enda could never get on it.
"A neighbour recalled giving Declan lifts to football practice.
"He would be bounding down the driveway, but a spare pair of boots had to be brought, as he'd always forget them."
Padraig added: "When he was working with Michael Dodd as a farm assistant, some farmers had their own ideas of how to do things.
"Declan though, did it his own way," which brought laughter to the crowd.
Another memory was of the school bus picking up students from the Lake Road.
"When the bus turned up at Declan's, he was a bit late, the shirt would be hanging out, and you'd hear Laura shouting after him 'your schoolbag!'"
Padraig finished: "Declan – the tractor driver, footballer, rower, wonderful son, brother, nephew, cousin and best friend – you were greatly loved and will be sadly missed by all."