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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Cillian Sherlock

Parents of teenager who died in Greece say son ‘had so much love to give’

PA Wire

The funeral mass one of two Dublin school leavers who died on a Greek island holiday has heard he had “so much love to give”.

Andrew O’Donnell died on the island of Ios on July 1 when he is believed to have fallen while walking back from a night out.

Hours later, fellow pupil Max Wall also died after falling ill on the island.

The teenagers were among a large group of young people from St Michael’s and other Dublin schools who travelled to the island to celebrate the end of their Leaving Certificate examinations.

During Mr O’Donnell’s funeral on Wednesday, his father, Gavin O’Donnell, said “Andrew filled our home with love and joy from the moment he arrived”.

He added: “He loved, and was loved, by so many people.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Andrew and the man he became – and we will miss him dearly.

“Goodbye Andrew, my beautiful boy.”

His mother, Bebhinn O’Donnell, said they would always remember their son as “that wonderful and unconditionally loved bundle of joy” they welcomed into their home when he was born.

“You had so much love to give and you gave it out in buckets.”

She added: “Sleep well, we love you, we miss you but we will see you again one day.

“Goodnight my beautiful boy, we are truly heartbroken.”

Earlier in the mass, the procession entered the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook while a haunting rendition of Mad World was played over keys and strings.

A photo of Mr O’Donnell was placed on top of his woven coffin.

Mr O’Donnell turned 18 on June 7 – the same day he sat English Paper One for the Leaving Cert.

Parish priest Ciaran O’Carroll offered his heartfelt condolences to Mr O’Donnell’s family and the wider St Michael’s College school community.

Mr Wall was also remembered during the mass.

Archbishop Dermot Farrell, Government ministers Simon Coveney and Norma Foley, and an aide-de-camp of President Michael D Higgins were also present.

Father O’Carroll said Andrew possessed a “vibrant spirit, a kind heart, unfailing loyalty, and a sense of humour that brightened even the darkest days”.

Sporting medals, to represent Mr O’Donnell’s participation and success with Old Belvedere RFC, Belmont FC, Railway Union Sports Club and Clanna Gael Fontenoy GAA, were laid at the alter, alongside other sporting items including a Liverpool jersey and a signed Ireland international jersey.

A lead used to walk his dogs Marnie and Maisie symbolised his “deep love for his pets” while a Kanye West vinyl and bluetooth speaker was placed to acknowledge his love of music and “admired Spotify playlist” as well as his house parties – “sometimes without his parent’s knowledge”.

These “crazy house parties” were further acknowledged by principal celebrant Father Paddy Moran, who recounted a story of Mr O’Donnell’s younger brother walking into the house moments after one event had ended.

“He sees the devastation, closes the front door, goes to the neighbours to tell them his house has been burgled.”

Father Moran, who is the chaplain of St Michael’s College, told the mass: “We are here for the saddest of reasons, to say farewell to Andrew, a beloved son, a beloved older brother”.

He described Mr O’Donnell’s life as “a mosaic of so many marvellous pieces”.

Father Moran acknowledged his family’s “time of unimaginable grief”.

He said: “Our hearts are broken as we think of your suffering.”

Father Moran also told the funeral mass that Mr O’Donnell had a gift with words as well as a love for his family and Irish rugby.

In his last mother’s day card to Ms O’Donnell, he wrote: “Dear mum, I love you so much mum. I hope you realise how loved and appreciated you are. Nothing would be the same without you. Love Andrew.

“PS: Is there any greater present than the Grand Slam?”

Father Moran also read tributes from classmates which have been pinned to a memory wall in St Michael’s College, many of which were addressed to Mr O’Donnell’s initials ‘AJOD’.

One read: “Wherever you are now, you are still making me laugh and be happy – just as much as when you were here. I love you bro.”

Another said Mr O’Donnell’s “smile never failed to light up the room”.

One school friend wrote: “Andrew, you were a core part of the year and your loss is like having the heart ripped out of us”.

The funeral for Mr Wall, who was also 18, was held on Monday.

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