A man whose body was found trapped in a cage in the River Shannon last Saturday died helping to keep others safe, mourners were told at his funeral mass yesterday.
A lone butterfly fluttered over the coffin of Bryan Whelan throughout the mass as his family, friends and colleagues said farewell to the "gentleman" bricklayer with a "heart of gold".
Mr Whelan (29), from Bridgetown, Co Clare, became trapped in the river after a cage platform he was working on while carrying out structural work on Thomond Bridge in Limerick city collapsed last Saturday.
TJ O'Herlihy (36), a stonemason from Castleisland who had been working alongside Mr Whelan also died in the accident.
Paul Murphy (36), from Ask- eaton, Co Limerick, who was also working on the platform, escaped without injury
Mr Murphy attended yesterday's mass in Kilbane, south-east Clare.
"While Bryan's death is indeed an immeasurable loss to his parents and siblings and the local community, he tragic- ally lost his life while making Thomond Bridge safe for other people to use," Fr John Bane told mourners.
"So there is that consolation, that he was still doing something worthwhile, even when he was taken in death."
John Paul Whelan, the eldest of three Whelan brothers, told his younger sibling Robert that "the three amigos are now two".
In an emotional eulogy, Mr Whelan said Bryan was his best man and godfather to his son, Jack.
"Our world, as we know it, was turned upside down," he said.
His brother was a "charming, charismatic and hard-working" man who excelled in his job as a bricklayer and repairing bridges, which mourners were told was a specialised skill.
"Bryan's workmanship surrounds us in our homes, be it a wall, stonework, a pier, a fireplace," said Mr Whelan. "Bryan was a person you could count on, a real gentleman. He had a heart of solid gold."
He paid special tribute to the "professionalism and support" of the emergency services who rushed to Thomond Bridge last weekend.
Mourners applauded as John Paul Whelan said farewell to his brother, who is also survived by parents John and Margaret and sisters Veronica and Maria.
"Farewell for now, until we see you again," he said.
Bryan was laid to rest in Kilbane Cemetery in a coffin draped in a Broadford GAA club jersey.
The removal of TJ O'Herlihy's remains will take place from 5 to 7pm tomorrow at Tangney's Funeral Home, Castleisland, followed by requiem mass in Castleisland Parish Church on Friday at 11am, with burial afterwards in Kilbanivane Cemetery.