Crash victim Stephen Marron was a devoted family man who was a treasured member of his local community, mourners heard at his funeral mass today.
The town of Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, came to a standstill yesterday as hundreds of people paid their last respects to the father-of-two.
Mr Marron (47) from Drumillard, died following a two-car collision on the Main Street in Castleblayney on Tuesday night.
His wife Helen, their children, his parents and sisters led mourners to St Mary’s Church, which was filled to capacity.
At the start of requiem mass, symbols representing Mr Marron’s life were brought to the top of the church.
His daughter Andrea (9) brought up two family photographs and his son Franco (6) brought up a plaque, which was a present they had planned to give their dad on Christmas Day.
Other symbols were a Castleblayney hurling jersey, a Blayney Rovers soccer jersey, a hurley and a sliotar. Members of the two clubs formed a guard of honour outside the church.
Chief concelebrant and parish priest Canon Shane McCaughey told them, “On Tuesday night last Stephen was surprised by death and the suddenness and sadness of his passing has caused much heart ache and grief for his family and this community.”
He said people had gathered to grieve “the loss of a husband, a parent, a son, a brother, an uncle, a colleague, and a friend, but also to give thanks for the life of Stephen Marron. Someone who was so important to our lives in so many different ways. Someone whose presence was so life-giving and now is dead.”
Canon McCaughey said is the second time his parents have lost a child; their daughter Patricia died 25 years ago when she was 11 years old.
“They have gone down this journey before; in November 25 years ago they followed the small coffin of an 11 year old girl to this church,” he said.
Describing Stephen he said, “It is difficult to list all the things he did for the parish. From selling tickets to delivering envelopes, no task was too awkward nor no challenge too great.”
He had helped to deliver hot meals to the poor and elderly, “and later started delivering from the chip shops in the evenings.”
In relation to his involvement with the church, Canon McCaughey said, “Stephen progressed to be a collector and then a Minister of the Word. He was the first chairperson of the Parish Safeguarding Committee, and eventually to assistant sacristan.”
He also recalled how Stephen had met his wife Helen and they had married in Rome.
He noted: “The only reason he was working on Tuesday night was because he had planned an outing with Helen and the children this weekend.
“In the community Stephen was the go-to-man for a myriad of things, and no-one who sought his help was ever refused.”
After the prayers of the faithful, Fr McCaughey also asked for prayers “for all those involved in the incident on Tuesday night and their families.”
Speaking to the media shortly before the mass, he said Mr Marron’s his family ‘are in a state of shock.’
He said Mr Marron’s children were preparing this weekend to go away for a little treat over to Galway and the children were set to meet Santa Claus.
“It is such a sad time in the month of Christmas for a family to be distraught and to be so hurting when the rest of our country rightly so is celebrating Christmas, the birth of Christ, the coming of Santa Claus and all those good things,” he said.
Garda Michael Devlin, who was also injured during Tuesday night’s incident, is still recovering and members of his family attended Mr Marron’s funeral.