Remarks by Archbishop Sean Brady at funeral Mass of Cormac McAnallen

05 Mar 2004


5 MARCH 2004



“Cormac was an icon … a role model, gentle and modest”

FRIDAY, 5 MARCH, 2004, 11.00AM

A Aire Rialtais, a theachta Uachtaráin na hÉireann, a Thiarna Easpaig, a chomhaltais
Chumainn Lúth Chleas Gael, a chairde Gael, idir cléir agus tuath.

Today tens of thousands are with us in spirit as we come to pay our respects to a
noble hero.

For the tragic and sudden death of Cormac McAnallen has shocked and saddened countless
people. United with all of you here present, and with Fr Breslan and the people of
his beloved Eglish in particular, and in union with Tyrone people everywhere, I offer
my deepest sympathy to Cormac’s parents, Bridget and Brendan, to his brothers, Donal
and Fergus, to his fiancée, Ashlene, and to the extended family. Their loss is truly

Today the words of the Book of Wisdom seem particularly appropriate. I hope that
they can offer some consolation:

“The virtuous man, though he dies before his time, will find rest.
Length of days is not what makes age honourable,
Nor number of years the true measure of life;
Understanding, this is ripe old age.” (4:17)

In the eyes of all of us, Cormac has died before his time, carried away in the twinkling
of an eye by a deadly freak virus. It is hard to make sense of it all. And yet in his
very short life Cormac achieved so much. On and off the playing field he was a star.
Inside and outside the classroom and the examination hall he was hugely successful.
Naturally gifted in so many ways – intellectually, physically, emotionally – he worked
hard to develop his talents. He did so not to hoard them for himself, but to share
them generously and to bring happiness, joy and glory to others. I am thinking of
the huge round of speaking engagements at functions which he undertook over recent
months. I am thinking also of his commitment to activities like Scór with the Club
and the community. Scripture tells us that it is not length of days, nor number
of years that make life honourable or memorable. The true measure of greatness
is the living of a good and sincere life. For virtue does not die but gives the
assurance of immortality.

One of the intercessions in the Prayer of the Faithful in the Mass recalled the
extraordinary influence exercised by Cormac McAnallen on a variety of people.
Time and time again he inspired team-mates to strive for the good and the glory
which they desired. Now his memory will burn brightly in the hearts of all who
loved and admired him. The example of his all too short, but brilliant life,
will be a light to very many others. It will inspire them to live so as to win
the crown of eternal glory.

Who will best honour the memory of our dead hero? I firmly believe that Cormac’s
memory will be best honoured by those who will best imitate the good that he has
done. The word, icon, is much used nowadays and perhaps overused. Cormac was an
icon in the proper sense of that term. He was a role model, gentle and modest,
dedicated and disciplined, joyful and happy.

There is immense grief and sorrow at the death of Cormac McAnallen. Understandably
so – for his passing is a huge loss to his parents, brothers, fiancée, Ashlene,
and to countless others. St Paul urges us to take heart from what we believe.
We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those
who died in Jesus. God will bring them with him. This is our Faith. We are
proud to profess it. Let is also be our consolation in these days of sorrow and

In these days, justly and not surprisingly, there is a lot of attention given to
the No 3 red and white jersey which Cormac so proudly and effectively wore. We
should not forget another garment which he wore much earlier. I am speaking of
the white baptismal gown which he wore in this Church of St Patrick, Eglish, on
leap day, 29 February, 1980. On that day Cormac was brought here as an infant
by his parents and godparents to receive Christian baptism. On that day the
seed of Christian faith was sown – a faith which Cormac went on to practise
and live.

For the life of Cormac McAnallen we praise the Lord. For the life-journey which
brought him from Derrylatinee Primary School in Eglish to St Patrick’s Grammar
School in Armagh, to Queen’s, UCD, Healy Park, Casement Park, Croke Park, Australia,
back to Armagh, this time to St Catherine’s College, as a teacher, and now finally
back to Eglish for Christian burial, we give thanks to God. We ask God to forgive
him for any human weakness, any sin on his part. We commend him graciously, if
so reluctantly, to the Lord, to his ultimate goal and destination, eternal life.
We pray that we all might be found worthy to be re-united together in our heavenly
home in due time.

Moldah le Dia, le hAthair na Trócaire agus le Dia an tSóláis uile. Is é a thugann
sólás dúinne inár gcuid trioblóidí sa slí go bhféadaimíd sólás a thabhairt do dhaoine
eile ina gcuid trioblóidí féin as ucht an tsóláis a fhaighimid féin ó Dhia. Suaimhneas
síoraí tabhair dó, a Thiarna, agus go lonraí solas suthain air. Go bhfaighe a anam
agus anamnacha na bhfíreán go léir trócaire.

Sa bhaisteadh gealladh an bheatha shíoraí do Chormac. Tabhair dó anois, a Thiarna,
páirt a bheith aige i gcomaoin na Naomh go deo.

Suaimhneas síoraí tabhair dó, a Thiarna, agus go lonraí solas suthain air. Go
bhfaighe a anam agus anamnacha na bhfíreán trócaire ó Dhia agus cónaí faoi shuaimhneas.
Go bhfáilti Críost romhat i bparthas, a Chormaic dhil, agus go bhfáilti sluaite na
n-aingeal romhat. Amen.

Details of the funeral Mass for Cormac McAnallen:
* Celebrant – V Rev. Patrick Breslan, PP, Eglish;
* Concelebrants – V Rev. Gerard McAleer, PP, Donaghmore (Tyrone Team)
V Rev. Kevin Donaghy, Principal, St Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh (where Cormac studied);
* Music – St Catherine’s College, Armagh (where Cormac taught).

Further information:
Director of Communications Martin Long: 086 172 7678
Communications Officer Brenda Drumm: 087 233 7797