'David touched the hearts of everyone he met'
A cold March sun shone brightly in Enniscorthy as the family and friends of the late David (Motcha) Walsh gathered for their final farewell.
Hundreds gathered outside St Aidan's Cathedral to meet the funeral cortege as it made its way down from the Walsh family home in Moran Park.
There was a stunned silence as his heartbroken father and brothers lifted the remains of their beloved David from the hearse which was adorned with many floral tributes including ones that read son, uncle, dad, Motcha, nephew and Davey.
29-year-old David was found with a stab wound to his neck outside his home in Sydney, Australia, on February 18. His fiancee Tina Cahill (25) from New Ross was arrested at the scene and charged with his murder.
His body was brought into the Cathedral to the strains of the popular Christy Moore song 'The Voyage' which was sung by soloist Stephen Murphy.
David's brother Paddy delivered a beautifully poignant eulogy in which he remembered his brother's 'cheeky grin'.
Full of emotion but speaking with a quiet dignity and grace, Paddy spoke of horrible coincidence which saw his brother being buried on St David's Day.
'As I stayed up last night with David as I had spent so many nights sitting up with him chatting I thought of the way February was drawing to a close and how March 1 is St David's Day. I was reminiscing about David. Everyone here knew who he was and what a character he was. I was trying to think of a few words to say here today but a few words would never sum up David.
'He was a real character. Anyone who was lucky enough to have met Motcha never forgot him. He left an everlasting memory and touched the hearts of everyone he met. He was unique. Motcha was always smiling and laughing - he never took anything too seriously.
'The only thing he took seriously was his family, our mam and dad and his three special little girls. They meant everything to him.
'Although he was far away from home he never really left home. There are just so many things that could be said about him. I was glancing at some of the stuff and I was picturing his cheeky grin and smile.
'Motcha, until we meet again brother, rest in peace.'
Welcoming the congregation Fr Odhran Furlong said 'it is an incredibly sad occasion. It's the first day of spring, St David's Day, Ash Wednesday and how great it would be if they were the only reasons that brought us here. But our hearts are charged with a different task and our prayers are for Motcha as his soul is gathered back home.'
Fr Odhran offered up prayers for David's heartbroken parents, John and Ann, his daughters Ava, Aine and Erin, their mother Caroline, his brothers Jonathan, Paddy, Barry, Steven, Kalem, his sister Faith and his extended family and friends.
He prayed that God would 'visit their hearts with comfort and peace'.
David's young sister Faith performed the first reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes, the popular A Time for Everything. Despite her tender years her voice rang loud and clear throughout the Cathedral and although it broke with emotion several times she cut a dignified figure.
Soloist Stephen Murphy sung the psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd before David's brother Kalem read from a reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians while the Gospel came from the Book of Matthew.
In the sermon Fr Odhran said that 'there are many other things we wish we were doing right now and there have been many times over the past few days when you have wished to feel any other way.'
He said that Motcha's family, daughters and friends might feel 'they have no music in them, perhaps no happiness, no joy, no confidence or even faith in God' adding that 'those left behind everything changes forever.
'Without the person we loved life no longer carries the same meaning or joy. We worry and wonder about the future and wonder how will we go on without this person. Our hearts go out to you.
'So many people here know what it is like to look into an empty chair, to want to tell a parent about wonderful in life only to remember they are not there.
'We want to hear their voices or Skype them but no matter how hard we strain we won't hear that voice again.
'So many of us know what it is like to mourn and know that since you heard the unbelievable news of Motcha's death there has been a persistent silence.'
However he said that mourning is hugely important. 'When we mourn properly we work though our loss. It won't create an instance peace but it will bring healing even though you will still miss Motcha more than words can say it.
'It doesn't mean that you don't cry or miss Motcha or get over his death - quite the opposite. You learn to live with it. Our pain is soothed to the point of peace which allows us to remember.
'All of us feel such pain and sorrow since Motcha died and a comfort comes through the great power and strength of love. We wouldn't be mourning if we hadn't loved so deep.'
Fr Odhran said that Motcha's life was 'way too short' but said 'we pray that God will bring peace to all who loved Motcha in his life'.
During the Prayers of the Faithful David's daughter Erin remembered how 'Daddy had fought the good fight, he had finished the race and kept the faith'. Prayers were also offered up for all those who had died, the sick and Motcha's family and friends.
His daughters Ava and Aine brought up the offertory gifts of bread and wine.
After communion Ava and Aine both recited the David Harkin poem, He is Gone, calling on the mourners not to 'shed tears that he is gone' but 'smile because he has lived'.
Ava said: 'You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back. Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left. Your heart can be empty because you can't see him. Or you can be full of the love that you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday. Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.'
Reciting the second half of the poem, Aine said: 'You can remember him and only that he is gone. Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.'
After they had finished there was a hushed silence in the Cathedral before the mourners broke into applause.
Fr Odhran, speaking on behalf of the Walsh family, thanked everyone who had supported them over the past 'number of very, very difficult days' and said he hoped that God would give David's daughter Ava the gift of comfort as she returned to the Cathedral on Saturday to receive the sacrament of Confirmation.
He said that although Motcha's family and friends felt great sadness in their parting they should 'take comfort in the fact you will see him again'.
Soloist Stephen Murphy sang You Raise Me Up as David's remains were carried from the Cathedral by his father and brothers.
Outside members of Enniscorthy United, the club with which David used to play prior to his emigration, formed a guard of honour. The Irish flag and an Enniscorthy United jersey were draped on his coffin as he made his final journey to Enniscorthy Cemetery with the cortege being led by a lone bagpiper.