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Saturday 7 December 2019

'I would willingly take your place' – Clarkes say goodbye to tragic son

The removal service of Andrew Clarke at The Boys' Chapel, Clongowes Wood College, Clane
Andrew Clarke , son of Derry and SallyAnne
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE well-known restaurateur Sallyanne Clarke has said she would willingly trade places with her teenage son tragically killed in an accident at home.

The voice of the devastated mother, who runs the acclaimed l'Ecrivain restaurant with her husband Derry, quivered as she read a poignant poem to mark the death of her 16-year-old son Andrew Clarke before the hundreds of mourners gathered for his removal service.

The transition-year student's classmates formed a guard of honour at the entrance to the Boys' Chapel at Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare – a place the promising racing car driver called his "second home".

Many well-known faces – including lawyer Gerald Kean, Grainne and Sile Seoige and Lorraine Keane – joined the mourners in the packed pews as the teenager's classmates carried the coffin bearing his 6ft 2in frame into the chapel.

Sallyanne paid a heartfelt tribute from the altar to her only son, describing how she had been left with a "picture" now frozen in time.

She said that what remained was an ache "deep down" inside her following the loss of the son and "baby boy" she loved so much.

"If only they had asked me if I would take your place, I would have done so willingly, leaving you this world to grace," she said.

"You should have had so many years to watch your life unfold, and in the midst of this watch me, your devastated mom, grow old.

Fr Michael Sheil told mourners Andrew lived on in a "very special way" as his parents and sister, Sarah May (22), had given permission for his heart, lung, liver and kidney to be donated to help others live.

Collapsed

The 16-year-old lost his battle for life on Monday, following an accident the previous week when a car he was fixing at the family home in Saggart, Co Dublin, collapsed on him.

The Clongowes student was mad about cars and had finished in the top three of the Ginetta junior racing championship this year – a tournament for 14 to 17 year olds.

Fr Sheil described Andrew as a person who was "liked, respected, loved and had a special place in the hearts" of many. He told how the family had asked for donations, if desired, instead of flowers to Strangeboat.org which aids organ transplantation.

The teenager will be buried at Mount Jerome cemetery today following a funeral Mass conducted by his principal Fr Leonard Moloney at Clongowes.

Irish Independent

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