Eamon Connolly, Magheramore
Funeral Mass Homily - 21 November 2014
I know that I speak for everyone here and indeed everyone in the parish, when I renew our expression of sincere sympathy to Rita and Maureen, to Gerry, Barry and Katie and to all of Eamon’s relations and friends on this very sad occasion for you. All of us feel for you at this moment of loss which has taken Eamon before his time. It has deprived you of a son, a brother, a brother-in-law and uncle. The sense of loss is shared also by that close network of neighbours and friends in Magheramore, so many of whom showed their Christian neighbourliness in lots of ways most especially over the past while. And I know too that further afield at marts, at shows and at other agricultural events. Eamon will be sadly missed by a wide circle of farming friends.
There’s no good time for death but at this time of year, when we are remembering the Holy Souls, when there’s more darkness than light, when even nature itself seems to sleep death we are reminded of how fragile human life is. Eamon fought hard against the sickness that befell him and in spite of his own bravery in the face of it all, the outcome was so different to what we all hoped it would be. It seems very unfair that Eamon should have been struck down by this sickness given that he was so fit and active around the farm. He would have been very familiar with the circle of life and death revealed in the rhythm of nature. To Eamon, as to all who are close to the land, life and death go hand in hand as your journey through the year with each stage of the year bringing something different: new life as in spring, harvesting in the autumn, growth in the summer and death in the winter. We would say that the wintertime came too early in Eamon’s life. There was much he had yet wanted to do, and he continued to have his mind focused on his animals and farm.
It’s no exaggeration to say, that until his dying day, Eamon’s mind and heart remained centered on his farm and his livestock. To those of you who knew Eamon well, this will come as no surprise. His devotion to his work on the land earned him the great respect of the farming community and, as Rita his mother once told me, he often cared more for his animals than for himself tending to them first and above all else. It’s a wonderful thing to say about a person that they took such obvious pride in their work and care of their charges. This was acknowledged by his frequent wins at various shows and indeed the picture atop his coffin now is but one example of his prize winning.
Another thing that has been remarked upon is the very honourable approach Eamon took to his dealings with others. An ordinary decency is much underrated thing in the modern world. But to have your interaction with others characterized in such a way is a real compliment. We have so many reminders of dishonourable dealings but not so with Eamon. His humble, inoffensive ways won him the friendship of many and he in his turn was a trusted friend to others. He shared common interests and pastimes with others and enjoyed social occasions too. It’s a truth that those who are close to the land are often possessed with an inner strength that shines out in various ways through dedication, hard work and good character. Such people are, quite literally, grounded people and this could also be said of Eamon.
In the gospel Jesus tells his disciples that unless the grain of wheat is planted in the ground it cannot grow. In other words, it cannot reach its full potential or attain its goal. That’s a good image of what Jesus was trying to say to his listeners about us and death. We lower the human body into the earth, just as the seed is planted, but the spirit of the person goes on to achieve its goal of eternal life in heaven. Our truest destiny is actually with God and although we enjoy the things of life of this life, ultimately, they all pass away and God alone is left. The good things we do during this life are like seeds planted that yield an eternal harvest and it is God alone who does the harvesting. Naturally, there is great sadness at Eamon’s death, but we can thank God too for all he achieved in this life. We pray he may now be blessed with the piece of heaven and rest after the labours’ of his life. We are very mindful also of his mother Rita and sister Maureen and their family and we pray for the consolation that only God can give.
Eamon passed away 18th November 2014