Family of storm victim pays tribute to 'gentle soul' who died helping other people
A heartbroken family prayed for Ireland's three Storm Ophelia victims as its members paid an emotional tribute to "a quiet man and a gentle soul".
Michael Pyke (31) was killed on the Ardfinnan-Cahir road in Tipperary by a falling tree at the height of the storm on Monday.
Mr Pyke, the youngest in a family of 11, had stopped to clear a fallen tree from the roadway with a chainsaw because he was worried about elderly neighbours being trapped in their homes.
He was struck by a second falling tree as he worked and suffered fatal head injuries.
Michael's sister Linda said she was sure "the best seat in heaven" was now reserved for her younger brother.
"Michael, what can I say? We are heartbroken," she said.
"You were the best son, brother, uncle, friend and boyfriend [to Nollaig]."
Linda added that the entire family was comforted by the fact that Michael, the youngest in the family, "was back in the arms of our mother [Moira]".
"Michael, you will always be in our hearts - and you will never, ever be forgotten," she added.
Linda said Nollaig Hennessy, her brother's partner, was devastated by the loss of the 31-year-old.
Ms Hennessy referred to the "gentle giant" as her "adventure buddy".
"We are now on different paths, but I know you are never far away. Love you always," she said.
Ms Hennessy took a framed copy of a photograph taken during one of her hill walks with Mr Pyke to the altar.
Clogheen Parish Priest Fr Bobby Power said that, from chatting to the Pyke family, he realised that Michael was "the white-haired boy who could do no wrong".
"[Michael was] a quiet man and a gentle soul who always thought of others," he said.
Prayers made reference to the two other families who lost loved ones during the height of Storm Ophelia: Clare O'Neill, from Aglish in Waterford, and Fintan Goss, from Ravensdale, Co Louth.
Following Requiem Mass, a special honour guard of motorcycles escorted the cortege to the graveyard across the nearby River Suir.