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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
David Young

Parents of teenager who died on Greek island pay tribute to ‘fabulous son’

PA Wire

The parents of one of two Dublin school leavers who died on a Greek island holiday have paid tribute to their “fabulous son” at his funeral.

Max Wall died on the island of Ios last weekend.

The 18-year-old, who underwent major heart surgery three years ago, fell ill at the island’s port as he was about to board a ferry.

Hours earlier, the body of fellow pupil at St Michael’s College in south Dublin, Andrew O’Donnell, was found on a rocky hill on the island.

Mr O’Donnell, who was also 18, is believed to have fallen while walking back from a night out.

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.

Monday’s funeral service at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook in south Dublin was told Mr Wall was speaking on the phone to his father Niall shortly before he died.

“One second Max was living and the next he was not, it was as quick as that,” Fr Paddy Moran told mourners.

“Max did not suffer. He was not afraid. He died listening to the voice of a father who loved him. There is consolation in that.”

Mr Wall’s father and mother Fiona both delivered tributes at the service.

“Today marks the end of an eight-day journey for us that with the most profound cruelty has not only taken Max from us but has robbed him of a bright future. And the sense of loss that we feel is so deep because of what he has lost,” said his father.

The most important thing about Max is that he simply was our fabulous son and we will love him forever
— Niall Wall

“Today is a day to remember Max, of course to mourn his premature death, but also to mark his short but very full life. Max was full of life. He brightened the life of others. He was the best craic. He was full of fun. The best kind.”

He spoke of his son’s ambitious nature, his generosity, independence and polite, kind and respectful demeanour.

“The most important thing about Max is that he simply was our fabulous son and we will love him forever,” Mr Wall added.

He also extended his condolences to Mr O’Donnell’s parents Bebhinn and Gavin.

“We forged the closest of friendships through our joint journey through what has only been a nightmare over the last week,” he said.

Mr O’Donnell’s funeral will be held in the same church on Wednesday.

Mrs Wall read the poem Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden at Monday’s service.

She then delivered her own tribute to her son.

“Max, our darling boy, we love you forever. We miss you dreadfully. You were a force of nature and your memory will live on,” she said.

There was sustained applause from mourners after Mr Wall’s parents delivered their tributes.

Earlier, his classmates took symbols to the front of the church to represent his life. They included a Manchester United shirt with his name on the back, a signed Leinster rugby jersey and a pool cue.

A megaphone symbolising the passion with which he supported the teams he loved was also taken forward.

The teenager’s parents took religious symbols forward to signify their son’s strong faith, while his brother Charlie delivered a reading.

It never occurred to me that we would be gathered two months later for the funeral of Max
— Fr Paddy Moran

St Michael’s College chaplain, Fr Moran – who celebrated the graduation ceremony attended by Mr Wall two months ago, was the principal celebrant at his requiem mass.

He reflected on the ceremony for the school leavers who had completed their Leaving Certificates and were preparing for a new chapter in their lives.

“It was a joyous occasion,” he said.

“I looked out at this sea of faces ready to embark on the next stage of their lives as young adults – young, energetic men ready to take on the world.

“It never occurred to me that we would be gathered two months later for the funeral of Max. It is heartbreaking to be gathered in this most tragic of circumstances.

“Our hearts are broken.”

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