Homily of Father Michael Kelly at Requiem Mass for Christy O’Connor RIP

12 Jan 2016

Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas Galway


On the 12th day of Christmas we awoke to the dreadful news that our friend had unexpectedly died.  The initial reactions were shock , sadness and loss.

Within hours a steady flow of tributes began to flow in – all of them glowing.

Tributes to the golfer – one of our greatest, to the family-man, who showed enormous pride in his family and never failed to acknowledge them when celebrating his achievements.  Tributes to a friend – and everybody felt they were one of them.  I have no doubt Christy had a large number of very close personal friends but he had the gift of making every acquaintance feel that they were special – and he treated them accordingly.

There were tributes to the fundraiser, who had raised huge amounts for worthy charities down through the years – from missionaries in Africa to the Galway Hospice foundation last July.  The famous 2 Iron alone was a powerful fundraising weapon.  They were all tributes to “a great human being”, whom we had the privilege to be associated with in one way or another.  He was a proud Galway man, an Irishman and a European.  His leaving has left our world a poorer place.  He was one in a million!

If that is how we, on the fringe of his life, feel, can we even begin to imagine what it is like in the eye of the storm?  Ann and her family, Ann and Nigel and indeed the entire O’Connor clan are well acquainted with grief and pain and have acquitted themselves with distinction in the face of it.

They say “it is not how a person died that is important but how he lived”.  For Christy, as for Darren, the end came suddenly and too soon.  But what is death anyway?  Is it the end or just a change?  The Preface of the Mass for the Dead says that for those with faith “life is changed, not ended” by death.  The Book of Wisdom from which we took our 1st Reading tells us that Christy’s soul has merely gone from this place to God’s place.

That view requires religious faith, which is asking a lot at a time when people measure life by its length rather than its quality – especially its religious quality. “A blameless life is ripe old age” says the Book of Wisdom.

Do I seem to be pushing the cause for Christy’s canonisation?  We might need a miracle or two to support the cause.  But he did have strong faith and that is what came to his rescue after Darren’s tragic accident.  He certainly believed in “the communion of Saints, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting”.  He spoke openly and confidently of his conviction that he would meet Darren again – not quite so soon, I imagine.  He prayed to him and for him and was convinced that Darren came to his assistance more than once.  Throughout those dark days and during Ann’s illness their faith supported them and enabled them carry their cross with great dignity.

Unfortunately that same belief will not fill the vacant chair or the emptiness you are experiencing in your hearts today.  But the support and prayers of the thousands of friends who shook your hands these last few days will carry you through the various stages of your loss and mourning.  Although out of sight, Christy will be watching over you.  He has only gone to God and God is very near.

A star has fallen but his light will continue to shine.  And just as he was your guiding light through difficulties and problems while he was alive, may he continue to light your way through the lonely days ahead.

To each one present I say: You loved him in life, do not forget him in death.  May your prayerful support give strength to his family and speed his journey to heaven.  Slán agus beannacht, Christy.  Go dtuga Dia slán abhaile thú.


Information on the funeral liturgy:

Chief Celebrant: Father Michael Kelly PE, retired Parish Priest of Craughwell (a close family friend)

Speakers before Mass commences:           
Eamonn Darcy on behalf of Golf Professionals
John Mulholland on behalf of friends of Christy

Presentation of Symbols:                             
Ryder Cup Trophy – Albert (brother)
Accordion – Eugene (brother)
Course Design Map – Raymond (brother)
Family Photograph – Karl and Christopher (nephews)

Scripture Readings:                                     
First Reading – John Fitzpatrick (friend)
Responsorial Psalm – Jennifer Joyce (friend)
Second Reading  – Brian Merrigan (friend)

Prayers of the Faithful:                               
Ronald O’Leary
Albert Jnr
Bill Carey
Mark Belton
Mairead O’Boyle
Crystal O’ Connor
Emer O’ Connor

Ann and Nigel – daughter and son

Dr Richard Joyce – friend

Musicians and singer include:                     
Michael English; Sean Keane; Red Hurley; Frankie Gavin; Joe Burke and Máirtín O’Connor

Notes to editors:

  • Mr O’Connor will be buried in Rahoon Cemetery, which is approximately 3km from the Cathedral.  Rahoon is one of two large city cemeteries.
  • At the centre of these funeral liturgies is a grieving family who deserve privacy, prayer and support.  While there is very legitimate public and media interest in the life and death of Mr O’Connor, members of the media are asked not to intrude on this grief and to be respectful both of the bereaved and of the sacredness of the occasion.
  • There will be a designated area outside the Cathedral, at the main door, for photographers as photography is not allowed in the Cathedral.
  • Galway Cathedral, which this year is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its completion, can seat 2,500 people.  Further information on the Cathedral can be found at galwaycathedral.ie.

For issues pertaining to media access or facilities contact: Canon Peter Rabbitte, Parish Priest, Cathedral Parish Galway 00353 (0) 91 563577

For other media-related issues contact: Father Diarmuid Hogan, Diocesan Communications Officer 00353 (0) 86 8888642 ([email protected])

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444