A tearful goodbye for superhero Ben

NewsBy Alan Sherry
A tearful goodbye for superhero Ben

Ireland’s superhero ‘Batman’ Ben Farrell was laid to rest amid emotional scenes in Dublin yesterday.

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.

They ran 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. 

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’s 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,” he said

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 uncle Trevor Croly, who managed League of Ireland teams Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wanderers, 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” before home time. 

“He adored his baby brother,” Trevor said.  

“Ben was beyond his years. He understood what was important. He leaves us with a legacy of what it 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, 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 coffin, adorned with the Batman logo and the logo from his favourite film, Jaws, was put into the hearse. 

Adrian Kennedy and Jeremy Dixon from 98FM were also in attendance and described Ben as a “little superhero” afterwards. 

Ben, who loved firefighters and gardaí, received a Garda escort to the funeral and a Fire Brigade escort to Glasnevin Crematorium.