Sunday 21 January 2018

Huge outpouring of grief as road accident claims life of Stephen (27)

The late Stephen Morrissey
The late Stephen Morrissey

Pádraig Byrne

While the sun may have been shining on St Aidan's Cathedral on Friday morning, a black cloud hung over the town as the local community gathered to mourn the loss of a young life in the form of Stephen Morrissey.

A beloved son of Peggy and brother to Kasey, Kerry and TJ, Stephen lost his life on Tuesday morning when the car he was driving collided with a wall at Ballinesker on the road between Blackwater and Curracloe. A second man, Michael Hallers from Bunclody, was rushed to hospital but it is hoped that he will make a full recovery.

A huge crowd of mourners filled the Cathedral grounds on Friday as Stephen's coffin was carried in for his funeral mass. A notably young congregation, there were friends, family, students from Enniscorthy Vocational College where he was a past student and former colleagues from the defence forces. Fr Billy Swan got the service underway stating that 'we never thought we'd be here this time last week' and that 'a life has been cut short in a tragedy that has affected the whole community.' He also offered prayers for Michael, who was a passenger in the car when the accident occurred, and for his speedy recovery.

Stephen's cousin and close friend Sean Farnan spoke from the altar about the type of character that Stephen was. On behalf of the family, he thanked everyone who had called and sent messages of support. Sean said that he and Stephen had been inseperable from an early age. He recalled that they were assigned as 'faith friends' at St Aidan's Primary school, partly because he was 'one of the only ones who could keep Stephen calm and under control!' He recalled some of their great nights out with friends, starting with Stephen's first night out in Kilkenny at the age of 18. He said that the group of friends enjoyed several weekends and holidays together and that these were the great memories that would last a lifetime. He spoke of how they went to the defence forces together and described it as 'the toughest thing we'd ever done' but how, with each other for support they got through it and passed out together in what was a proud day for them and their families.

'These fond memories are what we're all left with now,' said Sean. 'But for me, he's left a hole never to be filled. It was an honour to have him beside me on my wedding day and I had hoped I would return the favour some day. I looked you all your life, but now it's time for you to look after me. You were my best friend, cousin and brother. I loved you and I will love you the rest of my life.'

Heartbroken family members carried symbols of Stephen's life to the altar. A photo of him, along with betting slips to symbolise his love of a flutter, a phone to symbolise the great number of people he was connected to in his life and a teddy bear from his nephew Finn to whom he was a doting and devoted uncle.

Speaking from the altar, Fr Swan spoke of how the lives of many had been changed in an instant following last Tuesday's events. He said that during his short life, Stephen had included a lot and had 'battled demons that tried to destroy him, like so many others'. He said that at times Stephen had 'tried to find happiness in places that failed to provide it and brought only misery. At a certain point he ralised he needed help and he got that help at Cuain Mhuire. It is to his eternal credit that he asked for help and it was a real sign of strength, not weakness.' Fr Swan said that all donations received at the funeral would, as a result, go directly to Cuain Mhuire.

In concluding, Fr Swan issued an appeal for people to take care on the roads.

'I would appeal for greater safety on our roads,' he said. 'The main reason we drive too fast is that we live too fast. We try to do too much too quickly. You often hear someone buring the candle at both ends being applauded as a virtue. It's not. It just means we burn out twice as fast. On the road, and in life, we need to slow down, because we're killing ourselves. I pray that Stephen's death will encourage us all to be more careful on the roads and slow down and if that happens, his death won't have been in vain.'

After an emotional funeral service, Stephen's coffin was carried from the cathedral with a guard of honour from Ajax Athletic Football Club for whom he would have played.His remains were brought to Enniscorthy Cemetery for burial. Stephen is survived by his heartbroken mother Peggy, sisters Kerri and Kasey, brother TJ and beloved nephew Finn, along with aunts, uncles, relatives and a large circle of friends.

May he rest in peace.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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