'He was a superhero' Mourners remember Batman Ben
Ireland’s superhero ‘Batman’ Ben Farrell was laid to rest amid emotional scenes in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
The brave five-year-old captured the hearts of the nation as he battled a rare form of cancer which he was diagnosed with on Christmas Eve.
His parents Valerie and Alan, from Lanesborough in Finglas, brought him to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Michigan four weeks ago for specialist treatment which wasn’t available in Ireland after a massive fundraising campaign which saw everyone from the Dublin GAA team to Aslan singer Christy Dignam and Hollywood actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers lend their support.
But Ben, who got his nickname from his love of superheroes, sadly passed away on Wednesday surrounded by his family.
His funeral mass took place at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Arbour Hill, Dublin.
Fr Bryan Shortall said Ben came from good stock and his family made him the lovable child he was.
“In truth he was a superhero, he battled hard with cancer.
“He was a small boy of five, who had the power of Ali, Brogan, Ronaldo or McGregor and we feel his power now.”
Fr Shortall said Ben loved to sing the song ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home’ – which was in his favourite movie Jaws.
He told how Ben had sung the song “out loud in the hospital, banging out on the table".
“He was like Brodie, Hopper and Quint (characters from Jaws) - singing on the Orca.”
Fr Shortall added; “There was something otherworldly about Ben. He was mature beyond his years… in Michigan Valerie said, ‘I wish I could take your pain from you,’ and Ben said ‘No mammy, I wouldn’t want to give it to you, I can handle it.”
Mourners laughed when they heard that when Ben travelled to the U.S. he asked Valerie: “Am I famous here like at home?”
Ben’s cousins brought up gifts to the altar including a Batman toy car, a colouring book and a carton of milk.
Ben’s uncle Trevor Croly, who managed League of Ireland teams Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers said the youngster loved to give milk moustache kisses and he gave the best ones.
He also told a story of how Ben watched the film Home Alone and the next morning ran into school and said to the caretaker Joe: “I’m gonna fill you full of lead”, quoting a line from the movie. Trevor said even after saying that he had Joe, “eating out of the palm of his hand”.
Trevor said: “Ben was curious. hen he was admitted to Crumlin Hospital… there was a big red button and the nurse told him that was for emergencies.
“Anyone that knew Ben knew she was going to have an emergency soon… He pressed the button… and Ben being Ben, he was able to get out of it and have her eating out of his hands.
“She came running to see what was the emergency and Ben said ‘I just wanted to tell you I love you’ and Ben had her too.”
Trevor told how Ben “lived at 100 miles an hour, he never stopped, never wanted to rest or sleep… and just wanted to live and run round.”
He added that Ben had a special bond with his little brother Jack who he loved to share “huggles and muggles" with.
He said like Batman had Robin, Ben had Jack, “his apprentice” who he taught to wave his hand in the air like he did if he wanted “just five more minutes fun time” before home time.
“He adored his baby brother,” Trevor said. “Ben got life. He was beyond his years. He understood what was important. He leaves us with a legacy of what takes the average person 50, 60, 70 years to grasp and Ben did it in five years.
“His legacy is one of smiles, laughs, warmth, messing about, muggles and he loved giving milk moustache kisses, and he gave good ones.
“He brought people, communities, together and built friendships. He was brave like you wouldn’t believe and he loved people, he really did, everyone, but especially his family.”
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who met Ben on the set of the TV show Vikings in July, broke down in tears outside the church.
Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald was also visibly upset as Ben’s small white coffin adorned with the Batman logo and the logo from his favourite film Jaws and lyrics was put into the hearse outside the church.
Brother Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Day Centre also paid his respect to Ben at the mass.
Adrian Kennedy and Jeremy Dixon from 98FM were also in attendance and described Ben as a “little superhero” afterwards.
Ben who loved firefighters and gardai received a Garda escort to the funeral and a Fire Brigade escort to Glasnevin Crematorium.
Pals also released four white doves into the sky as the funeral toll rang out following the mass.
His family said Ben lived life at 100mph and had endless love for everyone he has ever met.
As well as celebrities Ben touched the hearts of countless regular people who got heavily involved in fundraising with everything from kids selling lemonade to workers giving up their wages to help pay for his treatment.