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Sunday 17 November 2019

Hundreds pay tribute to young soldier killed by car crash

Eoghan MacConnell

A YOUNG gunner killed after a horrific car crash, which also claimed the life of his friend, has been buried with full military honours.

An Army band escorted the gun carriage carrying the remains of 29-year-old soldier Lee Scally from the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, to his final resting place at a local cemetery where his comrades fired a volley of shots before his coffin was lowered into the ground.

Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday for a funeral Mass for Mr Scally who was a member of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment and had served on four UN peacekeeping missions including Kosovo and Chad.

The service was attended by President Michael D Higgins's aide-de-camp Col Brendan McAndrew, 4th Western Brigade Executive Officer Col Tom Aherne, who was representing GOC Brig Gen Gerard Aherne, and soldiers from across the country.

Mr Scally was involved in a single vehicle crash outside Mullingar a week ago today. His friend, Quentin Reilly (19), died that day while Mr Scally was left seriously injured. He lost his fight for life on Tuesday.

Chief celebrant Fr Michael Kilmartin told mourners how Mr Scally was "extremely dedicated" to life as a gunner.

He was also a "big-hearted man" who was a talented footballer with an interest in cars, said Fr Kilmartin.

The youngest of eight children, Mr Scally was also remembered for his good humour, mischievousness and his ability to relate to younger people, in particular his nieces and nephews.

His nephews Paul and Aaron and niece Saoirse brought gifts to the altar including football boots, a helmet and a serenity prayer.

Fr Kilmartin said it had been a "horrific" month for road deaths and recalled the recent crash in Co Offaly with claimed the lives of three brothers and their friend.

"One of the best tributes possible that can be given to Lee and the many other road victims is to slow down on our roads and to take extra care," Fr Kilmartin said.

"Today a culture of no-fear is strong in our society; fear is a sense of respect, many people nowadays have a limited respect for God, for authority, for people in the world around us, for death itself."

Fr Kilmartin said those closest to Mr Scally might always wonder "what if", however they now hope that the organs donated from his body will help other lives.

Following the Mass, Mr Scally's remains were brought in a gun carriage to Ballyglass Cemetery.

He is survived by his mother Carmel, sisters Kim, Elizabeth and Carmel, brothers David, Peter, Keith, Derek and his partner Louise. His father Peter died three years ago.

Irish Independent

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