Mourners at the funeral of a young Keady man, who tragically passed away on Monday morning, have been urged not to “bottle up the worries, or the darkness, that may be weighing on your mind”.
Tiarnan Fullerton was a young man revered by many for his “kind and good nature”, as well as his mischievous sense of humour.
He was the youngest of three boys, from a Fullerton family entwined in the very fabric of Keady.
His sudden passing was mourned by all in a community that fell silent as his remains made the short but poignant journey from his family home in Mullaghmore Park this afternoon (Thursday).
Hundreds packed into St Patrick’s Church to join Tiarnan’s family to bid farewell to a young man who left an indelible mark on so many people who had the pleasure to encounter him.
And it was his brothers and friends who carried up symbols to reflect Tiarnan’s life; symbols which included his “tangtastic” Dealer boots, as well as a tractor and digger, reflective of his love for farming and machinery.
His brother Ruairi offered up Tiarnan’s car keys and a personalised number plate that was gifted to the family by his many friends this morning.
A handcrafted tractor was also placed upon the altar to highlight Tiarnan’s many talents and skills – Tiarnan was “a very practical lad whose genius lay in his hands”.
A set of rosary beads was the final item offered up as a symbol of the faith the Fullerton family have in Our Lady.
Fr John McKeever articulated the deep grief and dark cloud which hung over Keady this week.
“We’ve all struggled in vain to find words of comfort and consolation for Roisin, Francis, Ruairi, Caolan and Odhran, and all the family,” he said.
“All that this community has been able to do – and it has done it magnificently – is to be there for them, to listen and to show whatever little acts of kindness we are each able to do, in order to show them that they are not alone, that they are loved, and that so many others have deeply felt what can only be a fraction of their grief at the loss of a beloved son and brother.”
Fr McKeever extolled the many virtues that made Tiarnan, not only popular among his peers, but a true leader in the family – despite his last born status.
“Even though he was the youngest boy in the family,” said the parish priest, “his brothers often looked to him to fill the big brother role when it came to getting things done.
“Not only did he have the know-how, but he also had the good heart and the willingness to help, even if you’d have to pay for it by being mercilessly wound up and slagged about it afterwards.”
Mourners heard about Tiarnan’s passion for work; whether it was cars or driving lorries, tractors, diggers, “he worked hard”.
“He had a natural gift for driving and for handling machinery that meant he often could pride himself on getting a lot done in lesser time than others.”
Work and home aside, Tiarnan’s big interest lay in country music and the line dancing. He was a young man who endeared himself to friends, work colleagues, and with people he met through different encounters “because he took everybody as he found them regardless of their background”.
“Everybody would just have to get the same cheeky humour, it didn’t matter who you were.”
Fr McKeever spoke of the heartbreak felt by so many “because of how well they regarded Tiarnan for his good nature, his willingness to help and that ruthlessly impish sense of humour”.
“But above all, he was devoted to his parents, Francis and Roisin, and his grannies, Moyra and Monina, and would do anything for them. Indeed, I remember him giving up his weekends a couple of years ago to drive the digger, helping his dad to fix the new section in the graveyard.”
Fr McKeever alluded to Tiarnan’s fondness for attention, especially “the affection of the ladies”.
“It all started with the way that he could tug at the heartstrings of his mother and his grannies, especially if there was any chance of a bit of spoiling, or a sick day off school.”
The parish priest went on to speak candidly about the need to open up and speaking to friends.
“Even if Tiarnan was more a man for actions than words, the fact remains that words can have great advantages over actions at times, especially at times of crisis,” he said.
“We need words, to share our thoughts and feelings with others, so that we can explore all options and hear back the truth that we need to hear.
“Nowadays, there is strong pressure to put on a good outward image and always pretend that everything in life is rosy and successful. Our reading rightly shatters that illusion, saying that not everything in our life is guaranteed to succeed no matter how hard we work at it.
“Even if life is not going well now, remember that as long as tomorrow exists, there is always hope for a better day. The problem is when the pressure gets too much for us the mind can easily snap and we can forget all about that promise of tomorrow, even lose our grip on the present moment, as the pain overwhelms us and destroys our reason.”
Fr McKeever used the saying ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ to illustrate his heartfelt plea – “the problem is that a straw is something so small, even invisible that you can’t spot it”.
“And that’s why it’s essential that nobody blames themselves for what happened last weekend to Tiarnan because it was beyond any human power to identify that mysterious final straw that, on another occasion, would never have been noticed. But I do urge everyone here, young and old, please don’t bottle up the worries, or the darkness, that may be weighing on your mind.
“I know from my own experience that it can be hard to talk to family, or those who are closest to us, that’s just who we are. And that’s why, again I’m speaking from experience, good long-standing friends are crucial, because they know us so well. And at times they know us even better than we know ourselves.
“They can help us to see the truth as it really is, to remind us who we really are and to shrink back down to their real size, all those fears that we had allowed to grow into mountains in our minds and take us captive.
“Jesus said the truth shall set you free and no-one can help you to see the truth and to discover different options than a good friend.
“So please, talk to your friends about whatever is troubling you and try to be, for others, that friend who is approachable and who will make time to listen.”