Monday 24 September 2018

'The white haired boy who could do no wrong' - Heartbroken family's tribute as Storm Ophelia victim is laid to rest

Funeral of Michael Pyke in Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary Pic Michael MacSweeney/Provision
Funeral of Michael Pyke in Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary Pic Michael MacSweeney/Provision
Funeral of Michael Pyke in Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary Pic Michael MacSweeney/Provision
Michael Pyke, who was killed during storm Ophelia
Tributes have been paid to three victims who lost their lives in Storm Ophelia related incidents: Fintan Goss, Michael Pyke and Clare O’Neill
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A heartbroken family prayed for Ireland's three Hurricane Ophelia victims as they paid an emotional tribute to "a quiet man and a gentle soul" who now has "the best seat in Heaven."

Emotional tributes were paid to Michael Pyke (31) who was killed on the Ardfinnan-Cahir road in Tipperary last Monday by a falling tree at the height of Hurricane Ophelia.

Mr Pyke, the youngest in a family of 11, had kind-heartedly stopped to clear a fallen tree from the roadway with a chainsaw because he was worried about elderly neighbours being trapped in their homes.

He was struck by a second falling tree as he worked and suffered fatal head injuries.

Michael's sister, Linda, said she was sure "the best seat in Heaven" was now reserved for her kind-hearted baby brother.

"Michael, what can I say - we are heartbroken," she said.

Tributes have been paid to three victims who lost their lives in Storm Ophelia related incidents: Fintan Goss, Michael Pyke and Clare O’Neill
Tributes have been paid to three victims who lost their lives in Storm Ophelia related incidents: Fintan Goss, Michael Pyke and Clare O’Neill

"You were the best son, brother, uncle, friend and boyfriend (to Nollaig)."

Linda said that the entire family were comforted by the fact that Michael, the youngest in the family, "was back in the arms of our mother (Moira)" who died some time previously.

"Michael, you will always be in our hearts - and you will never, ever be forgotten."

"Sleep well, Michael, until we meet again some day," she said.

Linda said Nollaig Hennessy, her brother's partner, was devastated by the loss of the 31 year old.

Ms Hennessy referred to the "gentle giant" as her "adventure buddy."

"What memories we have - unfortunately we are now on different paths, but I know you are never far away. Love you always."

Ms Hennessy brought one of the Offertory Gifts to the altar, a framed copy of a photograph taken during one of her hill walks with Mr Pyke.
The young man's coffin was escorted to the altar by his seven sisters.

Clogheen Parish Priest Fr Bobby Power said that, from chatting to the family since Monday's tragedy, he realised that Michael, the youngest in the Pyke family, was "the white haired boy who could do no wrong."

"The whole community is in shock and is devastated by the tragedy last Monday," he said.

"(Michael was) a quiet man and a gentle soul who always thought of others," he said.

Fr Power said the entire community had commented on Michael's kindness, his unselfish nature and how devoted he was to his family, friends and neighbours.

The Prayers of the Faithful made specific reference to the two other Irish families who lost loved ones during the height of Hurricane Ophelia, Clare O'Neill from Aglish in Waterford and Fintan Goss from Ravensdale in Louth.

Both died in accidents linked to fallen trees at the height of the storm.

Michael's niece, Sophia, told Ardfinnan Parish Church all her cousins were so proud to have such a kind, caring and protective uncle.

"You were such an incredible person. Thank you for being such a wonderful uncle to all of us (nieces and nephews) - and there are a lot of us," she said.

The mourners were led by Michael's father, Tony, his partner, Nollaig, his brothers, Anthony, David and Philip, and sisters, Linda, Tina, Sharon, Claire, Lisa, Sara and Valerie as well as his grandfather, Michael O'Brien.

The deceased was a student at Limerick Institute of Technology and LIT was represented at the Requiem Mass by Prof Vincent Cunnane.

Following Requiem Mass, a special honour guard of motorcycles defied torrential rainfall to escort the cortege to the graveyard across the nearby River Suir.

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