Information for media on the Funeral Liturgy of Dónal English-Hayden RIP

29 Aug 2015

Message of support to the English-Hayden family from Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin

“Since last Wednesday, the news of the tragic death of Dónal, following a farm accident, has caused much sadness in the lives of so many people in this wonderful rural community of Rathoe in the parish of Ballon. The thoughts and prayers of the diocese and well beyond are surrounding you, Dónal’s family, and the parish family, this Saturday morning. A farm tragedy affects so many – and in Dónal’s case the local clubs, the schools, the friends, the neighbours – there isn’t one person here today who remains unaffected.

“For most of us, faced with the tragedy that confronted Dónal’s family, we would be numb and speechless, but each of you, Matt and Noeleen; Deirdre, Claire, Maria, Matthew, Seamus and Moling and Dónal’s grandmother, Maggie have been most noble and dignified in your hour of grief. Today I hold you especially in my prayers as I do your very good neighbours, the Hogan family.

“My simple message, on this difficult day for all of you, is, to remind you as you have witnessed in recent days, you are not alone, and will never be alone. My prayers and those of the wider community surround you and carry you this day and in the days to come.”

At 12.00pm today the funeral Mass for the late Dónal English-Hayden RIP, late Rathrush, Rathoe, Carlow will be celebrated in Saint Patrick’s Church, Rathoe in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. Father Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, President of Carlow College, College St, Carlow, will be the chief celebrant and preacher at the Mass which will be attended by Dónal’s family, friends and by the local parish community. After Mass Dónal’s remains will be interred in the adjoining cemetery.

Chief mourners
Parents Matt and Noeleen, and brothers Matthew, Seamus and Moling and sisters Deirdre, Claire and Maria and Donal’s Grandmother Maggie English.

The singing will be led by the combined pupils of Knockbeg college, Carlow and the Gaelchólaiste Cheatharlach under the supervision of their teachers.

Presentation of symbols before the commencement of Mass
Hurl (Seamus English-Hayden) Dónal’s brother
Toy Tractor (Eric English) Dónal’s cousin
Toy Cow (Cathal Hayden) Dónal’s cousin
Medals (Kieran Buckley) Dónal’s cousin

First reading (Deirdre English-Hayden) Dónal’s sister
Second reading (Matt English-Hayden) Dónal’s brother

Homily for the Funeral Mass of Dónal English-Hayden. Homilist: Father Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh
This year I am twenty—five years ordained and while in that time I have been privileged to be part of many aspects of ministry, since 1996 I have had the privilege to serve as Chaplain and on the Board of Management of Gaelscoil Uí Thuairsic and to be Chaplain to the Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach. It is in these roles that I came into contact le clann Uí Inglís-Uí Éideáin, the English-Hayden family. It was there that I first met Dónal and I had the privilege as I had with other family members of hearing his First Confession, giving him his First Holy Communion and confirming him in the faith.

For his family, his school friends and his sports friends Dónal was a teenager who had a zest and a passion for life. He was fun; he was affectionate; he was caring; he was tender … except on the hurling field … and there may be a few here today who have scars as evidence of that. His mam, Noeleen, said yesterday at the family meeting to plan today’s funeral Mass that Dónal, ‘gave kisses in threes’. Dónal was impish. He asked questions; he had an inquiring mind; he was straightforward; he was honest. He was ceanndána … headstrong. Being a son of the soil he loved animals, especially cows. He kept rabbits. He liked trees. He had an interest in planting and growing things. He enjoyed red sauce, jelly and ice-cream.
Last Wednesday, ‘a fear and trembling’ gripped us all when we heard that Dónal had died as a result of a most unfortunate, unexpected and sudden accident. Our thoughts turned to his family. We asked how anyone could cope with such a loss as this. Coping with loss, with any loss makes big demands on us as human beings. At times, the sense of loss is overbearing, especially when the death is that of a young person. We are affected physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I am thinking particularly here about all the young people who are here at Mass today and who are feeling churned up inside about the loss of Dónal as a brother, cousin, friend, school pal and teammate . It is not an easy time for you and sometimes it’s hard to say how you feel. It is very tough for us adults too. I would encourage you all to continue to support one another and stand by each other and not to be afraid to ask for help. In our helplessness when coping with death and loss, we may feel that God no longer cares about us. And yet facing death means facing the ultimate question of the meaning of life. If we really want to live to the fullest of our potential, we must have the courage to recognise that ultimately life is very short, and in the words of Cardinal Newman that God created each of us for ‘some definite purpose’ and that everything we do does matter.
When he spoke at his mother Rose’s Funeral Mass Senator Edward Kennedy said that, ‘the most awesome thing about God is the width of his embrace’. Since the shocking news of Dónal’s death on Wednesday, ‘God’s embrace’ has enveloped the English-Hayden family in the support that they have received from the community and in the countless gestures that people have done silently and quietly to help ease their pain. And yet I noticed that when we reached out to embrace Matt, Noeleen, Maitiú, Claire, Maria, Moling, Seamas and Deirdre that they embraced us too. This family has an enormous capacity for empathy and reciprocity and Dónal’s attributes of affection, care and tenderness are family characteristics.

At the end of his talk at his mother’s Funeral Mass, Senator Kennedy said the following: ‘Legend has it that in the ancient world, a poetry contest was held each year. The third-place winner received a rose made of silver. The second-place winner received a rose made out of gold. But the first-place winner received a real rose, a beautiful living rose that soon wilted, dried up, and died. I ask you, he said, is there a single one among us who would not choose the living rose?

I chose the Gospel line, ‘Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain’ to help put a Christian perspective on the sad occasion we are part of today. Every farmer and gardener is familiar with the life cycle evident in his/her dealings with animals and with nature. As a son of the soil Dónal was familiar with this as well. His experience planting brought home to him that a seed must die in order to yield a harvest. In his teaching, Jesus used the metaphor of the seed planted in the soil when he referred to death as the starting point of a new life and a new beginning with God.

As a good teacher, Jesus used what was around Him to make a point. His point is that death is not the end. A grain of wheat only remains ‘a single grain’, unless it ‘falls on the ground and dies’ and when it does it ‘yields a rich harvest’. By virtue of His Resurrection, Jesus trampled down death by enduring the Cross. Jesus is trying to teach His disciples that after their deaths they will rise to new life with God in the Resurrection.

The story of our redemption is reflected in the grain of wheat which is sown and buried in the earth. It dies and brings forth new life. Jesus endured the suffering that went with His embracing the Cross in order to conquer death. He did not catapult over Good Friday, bypassing the horror of the Cross. He embraced the Wood of the Cross, carried it, and died on it, and by conquering death makes us confident to say that we will meet again with those gone before us. On the cusp of the autumnal season Dónal has been gathered into God’s harvest.

At the beginning of the Second World War, while the bombs were beginning to rain upon London, King George VI of England went on air with his annual Christmas message. He quoted the first five lines of a little known poem by an English poet Louise Haskins:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the known!”
And he replied,
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God,
that shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

On the 26th August Dónal put his hand into the hand of God, and continued on his journey into the world of the God who created him and loved him. It was said of Dónal that due to his sometime vigorous playing on the pitch that he became known to many a referee. Now he has his hand in the hand of the Great Referee. I don’t know what kind of cards they have in heaven, whether they have the black, the yellow or the red, but I am sure Dónal is making the case for there being no need for any cards at all or at least to have end to the black card! I’m sure in Donal’s case it will be a green card, green for GO! To go deeper and deeper into heaven where they only have the best cows, the best behaved rabbits, the kind of plants that he will only have to plant and that will water themselves, the top of the range red sauce and an eternal supply of jelly and ice-cream.

Gnúis Dé go bhfeice sé; ceolta na nAingeal go gcloise sé.

May Dónal rest in peace.


Prayer of the Faithful
Aisling Hayden Dónal’s cousin
Tamsin English Dónal’s cousin
Barry Hayden Dónal’s cousin
Muireann English Dónal’s cousin
James Shannon nephew of Matt English-Hayden
David English Dónal’s cousin

Offertory Hymn
Ag Críost an Síol (Claire English-Hayden) Dónal’s sister

Offertory gifts
(Moling English-Hayden) Dónal’s brother and (Robbie Hayden) Dónal’s cousin who will bring the bread and wine to the altar which will become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Communion Reflection
A Mhuire an nGrast (Maria English-Hayden) Dónal’s sister

Final commendation
Mass will conclude with the final commendation. This will involve the incensing of the coffin, blessing with holy water and the final prayers. The recessional hymn will be sung as Dónal’s remains are carried from the church.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth, Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678