'Thank you, Shay,' says father to friend who died trying to save son Jack
The grieving father of schoolboy Jack Kenneally (15) told mourners his heart fills with sorrow knowing that Jack's friend, Shay Moloney, lost his life trying to save his son.
At Jack's packed funeral Mass at the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ennis, Co Clare, Sean Kenneally said he "will be forever grateful" to Shay for his attempts to save Jack from drowning last Thursday. The two boys drowned in a disused quarry at Knockanean outside Ennis.
Standing at the altar and looking skyward, Mr Kenneally said solemnly: "Thank you, Shay."
He said: "Jack, it fills me with sorrow to know that Shay lost his life trying to save you."
Mr Kenneally said he couldn't forget the bravery of the boys' friend Cillian, who jumped into the lake in a desperate attempt to save his friends.
Chief celebrant Fr Tom Hogan told mourners that "an unbelievable sadness has affected all of us - two young lads, so quickly their life was no more". He said Jack's father and mother Tina were "going through unbelievable pain".
Jack was the "baby" of the Kenneally family and, according to Fr Hogan, had a special relationship with his three older sisters, Danielle, Katie and Aisling, who doted on him and spoiled him.
Comforted by his three daughters on the altar as he paid an emotional tribute, Mr Kenneally said: "There is now an empty seat at our table, an empty room in our house, but there will never be an empty space in our hearts.
"I wish it were a bad dream - clearly it is not. Who would have ever believed that something like this would have happened to our family.
"The sense of shock and disbelief is palpable in the town in the last few days."
- Read more: 'I wish this was a bad dream' - father of Jack Kenneally tells funeral he is 'forever grateful' friend tried to save his son
Mr Kenneally said Jack was "an outstanding person and outstanding athlete and a good friend to many.
"Jack, if you are only a small bit as proud of me as I am of you, I will be a lucky man," he added.
Poignantly, the majority of mourners were teenagers, many of whom wore the red and black of Ennis RFC. Jack and Shay were stars of the U-15 Ennis rugby team this year.
Mr Kenneally paid tribute to Jack's coaches at Ennis RFC, saying: "You had a huge impact on Jack's life. He became a different man when he started playing rugby. He was a rugby star."
Meanwhile, mourners will gather again for the funeral of Shay, which takes place at Ennis Cathedral at 11am today.