The priest at the funeral of John O'Donoghue who collapsed and died in his home after disturbing burglars has appealed to politicians to re-open Garda stations in rural Ireland.
Parish priest Fr. Tony Ryan said, "Perhaps our politicians will see to increasing a Garda presence on the ground in rural Ireland again to reassure all who feel so alone".
He told mourners in St Patrick's Church in Doon, Co Limerick, "There are many people living in fear who are on their own. We must reach out to them and keep in touch as best we can, for they feel so isolated and vulnerable," he said, adding that Mr O'Donoghue "did not die in vain - I feel there is a growing awareness of the need to watch out and look out for each other," he said.
Family, friends and neighbours gathered in the parish church in the county Limerick village this morning to bid a final farewell to local man John O'Donghue who died after disturbing burglars in his home in Toomaline Upper, Doon, last Thursday afternoon.
Among the chief mourners were his sisters Mary, Sheila and Christina and his brother Seamus.
Fr Ryan, who administered last rites to the 62-year old, described Mr O'Donoghue as "a very quiet, gentle, inoffensive and unobtrusive person". He added that as a carpenter "he was gifted with special skills and total perfection is written all over his work".
Family members brought symbols of his life to the altar, including books to reflect his love of reading, and a hammer to represent his work as a craftsman.
Mr O'Donoghue, a bachelor, suffered a massive heart-attack when he discovered his home being ransacked. His sister, Christina, a retired nurse, pleaded with the two burglars for assistance but they fled the house. Two men were arrested a short while later.
Two cousins appeared before a special sitting of Limerick District Court last Saturday charged with entering Mr O’Donoghue’s home as trespassers and stealing a ladies gold watch valued at €200 and £30 in sterling.
Michael Casey (32) Bay 9, Clonlong, Southill, Limerick and his cousin David Casey (20) with an address at Carragh Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, were also charged with two other burglary charges and a charge of criminal damage. The court heard that Michael Casey told gardai, “I really am sorry for the death of that man”.
The tragedy has put the spotlight back on the closures in recent years of Garda stations. Between 2012 and 2013 almost 140 Garda stations were closed nationwide. Most were rural and the majority recorded less than one crime a week in 2011, their last full year in operation.
Mr O'Donoghue was buried in Doon cemetery after 11.30am mass.
One of two cousins charged with burglary at a house, where a man was found dead on Thursday, told Gardai, "I really am sorry for the death of that man," a court heard today, Saturday.
The tragic death of John O'Donoghue is a reminder of why elderly people living in rural Ireland feel fearful, vulnerable and isolated. No one is ever likely to be charged with causing his death because he had a bad heart and had already undergone bypass surgery.