Wednesday 24 January 2018

Tears flow as first tragic sewer victim is laid to rest

THE VAN: The funeral cortege of Alan Harris arrives at St Agnes Church in Crumlin, followed by Alan’s converted Dubs van
THE VAN: The funeral cortege of Alan Harris arrives at St Agnes Church in Crumlin, followed by Alan’s converted Dubs van
A special t-shirt in memory of Alan Harris
Alan’s widow Tracy at the church in Crumlin
Dublin footballer Michael Darragh MacAuley
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

Photos of two smiling brothers in one another's arms rested on the coffin of Alan Harris (45), at his funeral in Crumlin yesterday.

A cousin of Irish soccer star Robbie Keane, the father-of-two died last Wednesday, after he was overcome by toxic fumes in a sewer he was working on in Portmarnock, Co Dublin.

His younger brother Stephen (34), went down to save him, but he too was overcome by the fumes and died on Friday, after a two-day fight for his life.

Among those paying their last respects to the sports loving dad, was Dublin footballer Michael Darragh MacAuley, who was in attendance.

Alan's son Alan Jnr told the congregation in the Church of St Agnes in Crumlin, of how his father only ever called him 'buddy'.

Standing to speak on behalf of his grieving mother Tracy and sister Nicole, Alan Jnr, was joined in solidarity by the mourners who stood as he paid tribute to his father.

"He wasn't just my dad he was everyone's 'Big Al' and I was 'Little Al'. He never called me Al he just called me 'buddy' - because that's what I was, and he used to always tell me that his own father was robbed from him and that he never got to grow up with his dad and now my dad has been robbed from me so I'm going to be the new 'Big Al,' said Alan Jnr.

He then raised his fist in the air saying, "Stephen tried to save my dad's life, to Stephen," in an emotion charged tribute.

After being overcome with emotion, Alan Jnr's uncles and Alan Snr's brothers, took over and continued his speech on his behalf.

"He was a giant breed of a gentleman, he was a straightforward man, he loved us all and worked hard to support us.

"He ran marathons, he managed soccer teams, directed five companies alongside Tracy and barely had his Junior Cert.

"He was my best friend, he'd move mountains for us all," continued his son's tribute.

"We're broken but he loved us enough for a lifetime, please rest in peace," it finished.

While an investigation into last Wednesday's fatality continues, the parish priest Fr David Fleming said the Harris families are left with few answers.

"On this sad day we have very few answers, we ask why Alan could not be left to his family any longer? We cannot explain," said Fr Fleming.

Sunday Independent

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