Wednesday 16 October 2019

'A very honest, correct and charitable man' - hundreds of mourners attend funeral of man (52) who died in plane crash

John Finnan
John Finnan

Sarah Slater

Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects to a much loved son, brother, uncle and friend who died in an air crash in Wexford three days ago.

Dr John Finnan (52), from Athy, Co Kildare a senior researcher with Teagasc and his flying partner Peter Tawse (61), from New Ross, died when their light aircraft came down near Duncormick 15 minutes after they took flight on Sunday.

The senior researcher was a leading figure in the Crops Research Department at Teagasc’s Carlow campus.

Among the mourners were his parents John and Claire, his sisters Emer, Ciara and Mary, his brothers-in-law Eoin, Ken and Steven, his nephews Alastair, Jack, Archie, Joshua and Toby, his niece Hannah, relatives and many friends.

Peter Tawse (61), from Old Ross, Co Wexford (pictured left) and John Finnan (52), from Athy, Co Kildare, died when the light aircraft they were in crashed at Gibletstown near Duncormick in Co Wexford
Peter Tawse (61), from Old Ross, Co Wexford (pictured left) and John Finnan (52), from Athy, Co Kildare, died when the light aircraft they were in crashed at Gibletstown near Duncormick in Co Wexford

The funeral of Dr Finnan took place at St Michael’s Parish Church, Athy, at midday today.

Mourners began to gather early to convey their sympathy to Dr Finnan’s parents, sisters and extended family - such was the volume of sympathisers that the Mass was delayed for several minutes. Three books of condolences were filled with words to comfort his family.

His oak coffin was adorned with a photograph of a smiling Dr Finnan flying and a wreath full of white lilies, roses and carnations.

The Mass, concelebrated by Frs Tim Hannon from Athy and Liam Morgan from Naas, Co Kildare heard that the flying enthusiast adored aircraft and it was his hobby for 30 years.

Fr Hannon in his homily said: “(John’s) death was so unnatural and out of the order of life. What has happened is such a hard task for his parents John and Claire and family to ask them to accept. Things happen and to accept them doesn’t come easy.

“From talking with his parents I know that John was a very honest, very correct and very charitable man. He didn’t like a wrong word said about someone. He adored all of his nephews and niece.

“He had a doctorate in philosophy from Maynooth and Trinity Colleges. His hobby was flying and he did that for the last 30 years. He was a skilled craftsman, filled with knowledge and intelligence but was also a very religious man.”

Symbols of John’s life were brought to the altar by his five nephews and one niece who were visibly upset at the loss of their uncle.

They included, a set of rosary beads and holy water from Glendalough, Co Wicklow his books which showed his deep love of learning and history, a shaft of wheat acknowledging his love of science, a compass and a model airplane and a calendar his nephews and niece make every year for Christmas to represent their close-knit family.

Prayers were also said for Mr Tawse who also died in the crash. Mr Tawse is to be buried in Wexford on Friday.

Dr Finnan’s remains were buried at St Michael’s cemetery following his funeral mass.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) are examining the circumstances of the deaths. In interim report is due in the next several weeks.

The aircraft was a vintage two-seater plane with one engine that was primarily used for leisure flying.

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