Tuesday 16 January 2018

Young man who died at Electric Picnic was ‘living on borrowed time’

Phil McConnell tragically died at Electric Picnic
Phil McConnell tragically died at Electric Picnic

THE family of the young man who tragically died at the Electric Picnic music festival last week knew he was “living on borrowed time” following a heart transplant he received as a baby.

Phil McConnell (20) was born with a congenital heart condition, and at the age of one became one of the youngest people in Ireland to receive a heart transplant.

The DIT student was found collapsed and unconscious by security guards in a campsite at the Laois music festival in the early hours of Saturday morning.

All attempts to resuscitate him failed, and he was pronounced dead at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise at around 1:45am.

At his funeral Mass today in his hometown of Seabury in Malahide, Dublin, Fr Jim Culliton SJ spoke of Phil as he knew him in Belvedere College, where Fr Culliton was assistant deputy principal at the time.

Fr Culliton said when Phil arrived to Belvedere College for his first year in secondary school, the staff were concerned that they would be dealing with a “precious” child.

However he said any worries were dispelled when Phil showed himself to be an “energetic” child with a keen sense of adventure who “ran everywhere”.

Fr Culliton said Phil died “dramatically yet peacefully” and this was characteristic of how he lived his life.

“The way he lived his life, he gave no hint of his medical condition,” said Fr Culliton.

“He expressed his gratitude for his transplant by packing as much into life as he possibly could.”

Remembering his son in a eulogy, Stephen McConnell said Phil’s medical condition paired with his “big brown eyes” got him out of “all sorts of trouble”.

He said his son had bought his Electric Picnic ticket seven weeks in advance of the event, and entered competitions to win tickets to ensure his friends could accompany him.

Stephen said he was glad Phil’s friends were present when he collapsed, and later as he died.

Tearfully, he spoke of how they buried their son in his “trademark outfit” of chinos and a polo shirt, but said he would keep his son’s signature fedora hat until he “reaches the gates of heaven” himself.

“I’ll know which room he lives in in heaven because of the party music coming from it,” he said.

By Valerie Loftus

Online Editors

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