A community stood still, held united in silent grief, following the sudden and tragic death of Dónal Kelly, a popular young businessman from Killeshandra, a talented sportsman and musician, and member of the local fire service.
Hundreds of mourners from across the region attended Mr Kelly's funeral mass, which took place at St Brigid's Church in the Cavan lakeside town yesterday (January 2).
The numbers followed and indeed included many of the multitude who had already attended to pay their respects at Mr Kelly's family home at Drumhilla, where he had passed away days earlier, on Saturday, December 29.
Mr Kelly (34) was a well-known publican having run The Vault in Cavan Town for many years, before opening a premises under his own name at Main Street in Killeshandra in 2014.
He was though, as alluded to in the eulogy delivered by Fr Gerard Alwill during the funeral mass, as well-known outside the bar trade as he was for his many other talents and hobbies.
A singer-songwriter and drummer, traditional Irish dancer and hurler, fireman, fisherman and local fundraiser, tying in with the Gospel reading, Fr Alwill described Mr Kelly as “salt of the earth”.
Several guards of honour presented at Mr Kelly's funeral involving members of Killeshandra Leaguers GAA, Mullahoran St Joseph's Hurling Club, and members of the local fire service.
There were countless more tributes posted on social media, among them from Killeshandra Leaguers GAA who wrote:
Elsewhere, as a mark of respect, members of the local fire service had posted images of the county badge with a black banner across it.
Padraig Tiernan, Fire Station Officer in Killeshandra, described Mr Kelly's death as a “huge loss” to the community. “The whole crew here is just stunned. We're still struggling to come to terms with it.”
Mr Tiernan told the Celt how “proud” Mr Kelly upon joining the service in October 2016, earning his place having finished “top of his class” in training.
“You talk about losing the post office or the bank, things like that, but this is as much of a loss as that. A young businessman, a prominent member of the community in the prime of his life. He was always available when called on, he was always there for people who needed him,” Mr Tiernan recalled.
A former student of Moyne Community School and St Felim's in Ballinamore, Mr Kelly had trained as an apprentice electrician, working abroad for a period before starting his career as a publican.
He is survived by his parents Thelma (McGivern) and Philip, sister Ailís, girlfriend Ann Marie, aunts Mary Canavan, Mena Maguire, Evelyn Lovell and Patricia Brady, uncle James McGivern, grand-aunt Teresa Brady, uncles-in-law, aunt-in-law, cousins, neighbours and many friends.
Mr Kelly's funeral was followed by cremation afterwards at Lakelands Funeral Home.