Swimmers provide a guard of honour as Ciarán Megannety’s funeral takes place at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Bray
Ciarán got into difficulty in the sea off Bray’s north beach during his daily dip on Sunday, November 13 and though swimmers came to his aid and emergency services responded quickly, he passed away.
Those same swimmers that had been such good friends to him throughout his life and at his life’s end provided a guard of honour dressed in their swimming robes as he made his final journey into the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Bray – a place he had spent so much time as a volunteer.
Speaking to a full auditorium, Fr Niall Mackey said he felt like “a fraud” talking about Ciarán, having only met him when he moved to the parish in July, but he added that like so many others he was immediately impacted.
"He was one of the first people I met and nearly every time I met him afterwards he said, 'what can I do to help'," said Fr Mackey. "Particularly I remember him being here for funerals. I was thinking that today is the first funeral he has not been here to help at, but of course he is still here."
Setting out cones in the car park and along the roads, handing out leaflets, bringing down holy water, were all things Ciarán would have helped Fr Mackey with at a funeral.
Fr Mackey said: "These are just some of the ways that he was an active part of the Christian community here in Bray. I won't find him easy to forget."
He added: "Ciaran brought a lot of happiness to a lot of lives. We remember that. We thank the Lord for that and we pray for him. We pray particularly for those closest to Ciaran."
In the huge congregation were Ciarán's niece Gemma and nephew Paul, among many others in his extended family and wide circle of friends. Lain on his coffin was a changing robe he used for swimming, a dog's lead, to show his love of dogs, who gave him much friendship and joy. There was also a bible and cross, to show his faith and a group photo of him with friends.
Prayers of the Faithful included thanks to those who helped Ciarán in his hour of need, his niece Gemma saying: "Knowing he was not alone brings comfort to the family."
Nephew Paul Conroy, in delivering a eulogy for Ciarán, added more thanks to the many people who played a part in trying to save his life on Bray's north beach, but he first spoke of his wish that there could be more Ciaráns in the world, not less.
"It's fair to say that if this world were filled with more people like Ciaran it would be entirely different," he began. "It would be a world filled with good people. People who cared unequivocally for other people. People who spent all their time talking to others without any agenda other than being naturally friendly.
"Above all it would be a world filled with goodness, kindness and laughter and a twinkle in the eye, and there would be a little bit of mischief thrown in just for fun. Everyone would know everyone's name and they'd call it out every day as they passed each other, just like Ciaran did.
"I don't know of any saint in history that could have done as much for others as Ciaran did. Everyone knew Ciaran, and he didn't even do social media."
As the congregation laughed, remembering Ciarán, Paul spoke of how 'ever present' he was, volunteering at every event in Bray and for many charities. He also spoke of the faith Ciarán kept.
"Only last week we went to Seapoint for a swim and he slipped my sister a bottle of holy water," said Paul. "He said he had been keeping just for her."
Paul also revealed what he believed was the beginning of his fundraising. When he was just a boy Paul's brother Rory was brought to him and Ciarán was sitting on the floor, refusing to speak to anyone unless they gave him a few bob.
"I think that's really where his idea of fundraising came from," said Paul. "When he received the Bray Endeavour Award from the Bray Chamber of Commerce in 2015 it was stated that he had raised over €1million over the years on his own."
Paul added: "Then there was his other love, Bray Men's Shed. There he found a group of men he could hang out with, chat with, drink coffee with, the shed became a second home to him. Thank you for being so good to Ciarán. For providing him a shelter of sorts and giving him the type of pure friendship he treasured."
Almost every other day, Ciarán also met with Gusto Italiano coffee shop group for a chat. At any time he could be seen playing with or walking someone else's dog, and sometimes he'd appear at your table. It was easy to 'succumb to his cheeky charm'.
"Someone once found him at their wedding reception dressed up and happy out," said Paul, "But he didn't actually have an invitation. He might sit down with you for an hour or two, just when you were having a nice romantic meal with your partner."
Paul described the Bray Sea Swimmers group as Ciarán's 'salvation'.
Speaking to them in the congregation, he said: "You must know you were Ciarán's tribe. He swam every day sometimes twice a day without even changing his wet togs. It was a place he would hang out in the water, chatting, helping people out of the water. A place where the sea itself was only secondary to the people he met.
"The there were the three Pats - thank you for the heroic efforts you made trying to save Ciarán last Sunday morning. To the swimmers that were there on the beach that day, thank you for the total respect you showed Ciarán. And to Paul Cooper, thank you for what you did on the day for Ciarán."
Paul also thanked the emergency response teams for their rapid action and for continued determination to save Ciarán's life. He commended their professionalism.
Concluding, he asked that the people of Bray keep the memory of Ciarán alive by taking some of the caring and simple way he lived his life into their daily lives. He added: "Somebody said to me during the week that he was the beating artery to the heart of Bray. We have lost somebody very special."
He finished by saying, "Swim in peace", a conclusion followed by almost a minute of applause. Ciarán was then cremated at a private ceremony for family and close friends.
Along with Paul, he is survived by brother-in-law Brendan, niece Gemma, his many cousins, extended family and a very large circle of friends.