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Noel killed "for paying respects at funeral of childhood friend"

Crime DeskBy Conor Feehan
Mourners at the funeral of Noel Kirwan
Mourners at the funeral of Noel Kirwan

A mourner at the funeral of the latest victim of the bloody Kinahan-Hutch feud has prayed Noel Kirwan's death would mark an end to the spiral of violence that has claimed 11 lives.

The body of Noel 'Duck Egg' Kirwan (62) was brought to Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sean McDermott Street yesterday amid tight security and a heavy garda presence.

It was the same church where Kirwan stood with Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch as he buried his murdered brother Eddie Hutch Sr in February last year.

Gardai believe such a public show of support for Hutch at that funeral may have ultimately cost Kirwan his life when he was gunned down in west Dublin on December 22.

The church in Dublin's north-inner city was also where Gerry Hutch's nephew Gary's funeral was held after he was murdered in Spain in September 2015.

The killing of Gary Hutch was the tipping point that led to the massive escalation in murderous violence between the Hutch and Kinahan factions, beginning with the Regency Hotel attack last February in which Kinahan lieutenant David Byrne was murdered.

Noel Kirwan was targeted just days before Christmas as he returned home to the house he shared with his partner Bernadette in Clondalkin.

"We pray to our Lord that this is the end to this violence that has devastated so many families," a female mourner said in the prayers of the faithful at Kirwan's funeral yesterday.

Fr Hugh O'Donnell, the former parish priest, said Noel was baptised in the same church and had grown up in the area.

He spoke of the tragedy of his death, saying he had been gunned down in his prime.

"The family is deeply shocked, and certainly stunned, and so is the community. Because when something of this nature happens we go into a post traumatic response. We need to mind each other and be sensitive," he said.

"Everyone says Noel was a lovely guy, a decent man, a great community person."

He described how Noel was a man who organised tug-of-war games to bring the community together, and would often be the first to start a sing-song at an occasion.

"He was always on the lookout to see was there an opportunity or a need that could be addressed that he could do something about, and that also extended to the homeless, the elderly, to really anybody, because he was someone who built up his community," he said.

Fr O'Donnell said as a community we need to stand against the negativity and violence all around us.

"We need to lift our own voices, take control of our lives, and be here for each other," he said.

Gifts brought to the altar to represent Noel Kirwan's life included his boxing gloves, a packet of his favourite jellies, a newspaper, an apple, and his mobile phone.

His God-daughter Rhonda Quinn gave a eulogy at the end of the mass.

"My ma said Noely had a heart of gold but he was a cranky pig, and we all agree with that," said Rhonda to laughter.

"Our Noely, or 'Duck Egg' as some people would call him, was a remarkable kind hearted man who helped so many people and asked for nothing in return.

"He gave me a job and drove me home nearly every night, and he was always at the end of the phone if I needed him.

"Bernadette told me how all the old people on the mobile home site will miss him because he had all their spare keys.

"She told me how he would tell her to go upstairs to watch the soaps, after he got a 60-inch television for his 60th birthday. She wasn't allowed watch it, and she would say to him that you might own the telly but you don't own the room.

"Noely Kirwan was one of a kind. He wasn't just a dad, a husband, a brother, a partner, or an uncle. He was a father figure to us all and we will never forget him."

Rhonda then read out one of Noel's favourite quotes: "You're only as good as your last favour."

Another mourner read a statement on behalf of the family at the trauma of having to read about his death.

"This is a horrific time for everybody, friends and family alike," she said.

"He was guilty of no more than paying his respects at the funeral of a childhood friend."

Local representatives who attended the funeral included Councillor Christy Burke and TDs Maureen O'Sullivan, and Dessie Ellis.

After funeral mass, Mr Kirwan's body was brought to Glasnevin cemetery for cremation.