Monday 19 March 2018

Community left devastated by 'cowardly murder' of vulnerable Paddy, funeral hears

'I wouldn't like to think of what those moments must have been like for him on his own. Did he call out?'

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A tightknit Waterford community was left traumatised and angry over "the cowardly murder" of vulnerable pensioner Paddy Lyons (90).

Fr Michael Cullinan warned that life in the quiet west Waterford parish of Ballysaggart will never be the same after the brutal death met by Mr Lyons in what should have been the safety of his own Loughleagh home.

Fr Cullinan also warned that violent death can never be accepted by Irish society.

"(We feel) anger at such a cowardly deed on a defenceless man," he said.

His warning came as he celebrated the Requiem Mass today of Mr Lyons at St Mary's Church in Ballysaggart.

Mr Lyons had been baptised in the church - and, after Requiem Mass, was buried beside his parents, John and Nora, in the cemetery directly behind the church.

Paddy Lyons, Ballysaggart, Lismore. Picture: Paddy Geoghegan.
Paddy Lyons, Ballysaggart, Lismore. Picture: Paddy Geoghegan.

Mourners sang 'The Fields of Athenry' to honour the music-loving pensioner as he was buried.

"I wish to acknowledge the deep trauma and the hurt suffered by all of us by Paddy's murder," Fr Cullinan said.

"That a murder could take place so near us shattered something so real in our community."

"That Paddy, who never knew any other place than his home in Loughleagh should meet with brutal murder. To speak within a week of such an event is difficult."

Fr Cullinan paid tribute to the work of the gardai and the emergency services.

"This is a strange funeral," he said.

Funeral of Paddy Lyons at Ballysaggart, Co.Waterford. Photo;Mary Browne
Funeral of Paddy Lyons at Ballysaggart, Co.Waterford. Photo;Mary Browne

"In a sense, all of us in Ballysaggart are chief mourners here today."

"We have been deeply traumatised by Paddy's murder. We must use that difficult word."

"This is a funeral Mass with a difference - and the difference is simply this. At a funeral we normally pray for the deceased and pray for the immediate family. But today all who come here for Sunday worship and who live in the Ballysaggart area, in solidarity with Paddy's family - they are the chief mourners here today."

"We have to cope with this trauma, this shock, this disbelief and this fear at the manner of Paddy's death has visited upon us."

"We will have to dig deep into our own humanity to support one another because we cannot talk about normality again. That is gone."

"When a death takes place as happened to poor Paddy then everything is different."

"May we never grow used to violent death."

Fr Cullinan noted that Mr Lyons was a man of simple tastes - he loved his community, music, his neighbours and his home.

The Offertory gifts to reflect his life included a sack, a piece of turf, a music tape and his Rosary beads.

He said that deep respect was underlined by how Mr Lyons' neighbours and family had shouldered his coffin on its final journey.

In his later years, Mr Lyons did not drive.

"Paddy knew what it was to wait for a lift," Fr Cullinan said.

"He used to say to me: 'Sure someone will come going up that way and they will bring me.' He had a contemplative approach to life. No doubt about it."

"Paddy was called to the vocation of single life and he lived that life using the talents God gave him. He cared for his mother after his father died."

"If something was happening in the community, he would be there."

"He didn't need alcohol to celebrate the joy of life."

The priest continued: "He was a man who knew how to handle time. And yet in that time he would be robbed - not just of money but of his very life. Terrible."

"I wouldn't like to think of what those moments must have been like for him on his own. Did he call out? What happened? It is unreal."

"Paddy's simple presence spoke to us. He lived his life - walking, trusting, talking. Having time (for people). Paddy always had time."

"Poor Paddy's death has a profound bearing on us. We are here today when we shouldn't be here."

"We are here because of the unfairness - the greatest injustice possible was visited on a good man, a member of our community."

"I was totally numbed when I heard. I couldn't even focus when I heard it. I sensed the significance was even worse. We are moved to the grief stage - there are many faces on grief but there is anger."

"To feel angry that this happened to Paddy but we mustn't get locked into that anger."

Mr Lyons was discovered dead at his Loughleagh home outside Ballysaggart, some 10km from Lismore, on February 25.

Gardaí launched a murder investigation following a post mortem examination on Mr Lyons’ remains at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) by Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster.

The post-mortem was ordered by Gardaí who were suspicious of visible marks to Mr Lyons face and head.

The pensioner was discovered slumped in a chair at his farmhouse home at 5pm after locals became concerned about him when he didn’t attend a funeral in the village.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News