The brutal murder and dismemberment of 17 year old Keane Mulready Woods in Drogheda last month should serve as a warning to other young teenagers who are being groomed by the ruthless criminals, mourners at his funeral have been told.
In a direct address to the young people of Drogheda, parish priest Fr Phil Gaffney said Keane’s association with such criminal gangs led to the inhumane, unthinkable way in which his young life was to end.
In what has been seen as one of the most shocking and barbaric murders in recent history, gardai believe Keane was tortured and killed in a house in Drogheda on January 12.
His severed limbs were found, a month ago today, in a bag that had been dumped from a car in the Moatview estate in Coolock in Dublin the following day.
Two days later his severed head was discovered in a burning car off the North Circular Road in Dublin.
Keane had been associated with one of the factions in the murderous Drogheda feud, and gardai believe his death and dismemberment, and the distribution of his body parts, was to send a message to his crime bosses.
At the Church of the Holy Family in Ballsgrove in Drogheda today many of Keane’s friends wore T-shirts with his photograph on them as his parents Elizabeth and Barry, sister Courtney, and brothers Darren, Ryan and Jack were comforted by family and friends.
Gardai maintained a pre-planned presence at the funeral, with armed members circulating in the area.
Keane was due to celebrate his 18th birthday last week, but instead his family had to plan for his funeral.
In a strong message to mourners, parish priest Father Phil Gaffney said to say that the death of Keane has shocked and appalled the town of Drogheda would be a total understatement.
“This young man, at the time not 18 years of age, has been lost in the most gruesome way to his family,” he added.
“This murder has brought about an unparalleled level of revulsion, not alone in Drogheda, but throughout our country and, indeed, far beyond,” Fr Gaffney explained.
“Keane had his troubles and was young and naive enough to fall in with the wrong people, not knowing or anticipating the dire consequences. I hope that his death will be a warning to other young teenagers who are being groomed by the ruthless criminals, that the promise of money and gifts will inevitably end in tragedy,” he said.
Fr Gaffney prayed that the Drogheda feud would end. “This feud in Drogheda has to end sometime. Let’s all hope and pray it ends before more lives are lost,” he said.
In a strong and powerful message to Keane’s friends and the young people of the town, Fr Gaffney urged them to learn from his mistakes.
“Please learn from his mistakes, getting involved with dangerous criminals, thinking some of them were his friends and yet they would sacrifice him in such a brutal manner.
“Drugs have become extremely easy for young people to obtain. Recently someone commented that a lot of people are now budgeting for their debs – as well as their clothes and drink – they’re also budgeting now for cocaine, and other drugs,” he said.
“It isn’t just communities with deprived socio-economic backgrounds that are worse for illegal drug taking, it has become ‘socially acceptable’ across the country among people from all backgrounds,” he explained.
Fr Gaffney also said that people who take drugs socially are only fuelling the violence. He also called for more action from government.
“These violent incidents need to be a wake-up call for all of us as a society to realise that actions have consequences. People who are taking drugs on a social basis have to realise that what they are doing is fuelling this situation of violence.
“The problem arises from the ‘normalisation’ of a drugs culture here in Ireland. Drug taking, ‘doing a line of coke’ has become as normal as having a drink. We need a nationwide response from our Government,” he said.
He also called on the community to help and support Gardai in the most difficult circumstances to cope with the effects of this feud on the town and its environs.
“We, the priests in Holy Family parish, along with our bishop, appeal once again - as we have done in the past to those responsible: In the name of God let it end now,” he said.
Keane’s white coffin was brought to the church in a hearse followed by a large group of his family, neighbours and friends who walked behind.
As his remains were brought from the church the song ‘You Raise Me Up’ could be heard playing inside the church.
Burial took place after requiem mass in the town’s Calvary cemetery.