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'He's going alone, no Mass, just a piper': funeral director loses father


Close: Michael Doyle Jnr with his late father, Michael Snr

Close: Michael Doyle Jnr with his late father, Michael Snr

Close: Michael Doyle Jnr with his late father, Michael Snr

As a funeral director, Michael Doyle is well acquainted with heartbreak.

But he has spoken of his own desolation at being unable to attend the funeral of his father, who died of the coronavirus - an illness he believes he also has.

Mr Doyle, of Michael Doyle Funeral Directors Finglas, Dublin, lost his father, Michael Doyle Snr (91), last week, just a day after doctors confirmed he had the virus.

At first it did not appear Mr Doyle Snr had the virus and the family was treating it as a chest infection until he was hospitalised in Connolly Hospital. But his condition then deteriorated so swiftly that Mr Doyle didn't have a chance to say goodbye.

"The staff at Connolly Hospital were absolutely amazing. They called me on the Thursday to see if I wanted to check in with him by video.

"Before I could even gather my thoughts he was gone. He slipped away," Mr Doyle told the Irish Independent.

"He's going alone. There is no Mass. There is no funeral. We're all in lockdown.

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"I've paid for a piper to play a lament at Glasnevin Cemetery and the family will watch it online."

On Monday, they held a virtual wake. He said the family were adhering to social isolation guidelines and were not organising a funeral, in solidarity with the heroes battling the virus on the frontlines.

"My father wouldn't have wanted it," he said.

Michael Snr first began to feel "a bit odd" the weekend before last.

By Tuesday he was no longer able to communicate with the family or Michael Jnr, who acted as his carer following the death of Michael Snr's wife, Agnes, two years ago.

"I'm so proud of the role that I played caring for my father in the last two years and we became more like good friends," he said.

A fifth-generation Dubliner, Michael Snr was originally from Townsend Street and had 25 children and grandchildren.

"He was a very humble man. He was an artist and a musician. His favourite instrument he liked to play was the harmonica. He was born in the 1920s so he liked to play music from that era," Mr Doyle said.

Mr Doyle Jnr developed a cough very suddenly on Saturday but it seems to have subsided quickly. "I slept for around 15 hours, then I woke up at around 11.30am on Sunday, had a shower and I felt better."

Mr Doyle believes he probably picked up the virus from his father.

Despite the heartbreak of losing his father to the pandemic, he is confident Ireland will emerge a stronger, more compassionate society.

"I'm devastated to lose my father. It is very sad, but it is going to be a lot of people's story," he said.

"I am very proud of the way Irish people are dealing with this. We're so proud of the HSE. I honestly think we'll emerge from this as a better country, more caring."

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