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Emotional tributes Bus crash victim Fr Con Cronin 'died as he lived, trying to help others', funeral hears

In an act of heroism, Fr Cronin pushed a friend to safety as the bus swerved towards them

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Mourners carry the coffin of Fr Con Cronin

Mourners carry the coffin of Fr Con Cronin

Members of St Colum's GAA club line up as the coffin of Father Con Cronin is taken from St Joseph's Church, Coomhola, Co Cork, following his funeral. The local priest died from his injuries after he was struck by a bus in Monkstown, Co Cork, on Tuesday. Picture date: Saturday August 7, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Funerals. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Members of St Colum's GAA club line up as the coffin of Father Con Cronin is taken from St Joseph's Church, Coomhola, Co Cork, following his funeral. The local priest died from his injuries after he was struck by a bus in Monkstown, Co Cork, on Tuesday. Picture date: Saturday August 7, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story IRISH Funerals. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Mourners carry the coffin of Fr Con Cronin

The family of a priest who courageously saved a friend’s life in a freak bus crash hailed him as arriving in heaven “bearing the marks and scars of a hero.”

Emotional funeral tributes were paid to Fr Con Cronin (72), a Kiltegan Father who spent decades on missionary work in Nigeria, and Bus Éireann driver and father-of- two Mark Wills (53).

Both died last Tuesday when a Bus Éireann coach suddenly swerved across Strand Road in Monkstown, Cork, and was in collision with a pedestrian before ploughing into several parked cars.

In an act of heroism, Fr Cronin pushed a friend to safety as the bus swerved towards them. Mourners were told “he died as he lived – trying to help others.”

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Missionary priests as the remains of Fr Con Cronin, St Patrick's Missionary Society, Kiltegan, Wicklow / Bantry, Cork were carried from St. Joseph's Church, Coomhola, Co. Cork

Missionary priests as the remains of Fr Con Cronin, St Patrick's Missionary Society, Kiltegan, Wicklow / Bantry, Cork were carried from St. Joseph's Church, Coomhola, Co. Cork

Missionary priests as the remains of Fr Con Cronin, St Patrick's Missionary Society, Kiltegan, Wicklow / Bantry, Cork were carried from St. Joseph's Church, Coomhola, Co. Cork

 

The Cronin family hailed the priest as a selfless hero.

“Fr Con was so much more than his duties. He was a warrior for Christ,” they said in a special tribute.

“We would like to steal a phrase from one of his parishioners – the loss is great but the legacy is greater. Fr Con was so much more than his duties.

“This week our family have been in complete awe of the love and support we have felt from Father Seán and the harbour parish. We as a family always felt that Con was a legend of a man that represented so much of the good in this world.

“But this week as we joined Con for his last goodbye to the parishes that he called home for the last decade it was apparent to us that your loss was as great if not greater than ours.”

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Fr Cronin – a native of Kealkill in west Cork – celebrated 40 years of his ministry in 2019 and had been based in the Cork Harbour parishes since 2012.

The curate in Passage West and Monkstown had just finished having lunch with a friend when the bus tragedy occurred.

Gardaí are now investigating the theory the driver may have suffered a medical emergency such as a heart attack in the seconds before the double tragedy.

Both the priest and bus driver were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency services.

Mr Wills had his requiem mass celebrated in Ballincollig three hours before the requiem mass of Fr Cronin at Coomhola in west Cork – with family, friends, workmates and clergy showing solidarity between both heartbroken families.

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Fr Cronin’s mass was held at the 215-year-old St Joseph’s Church at Coomhola where he was baptised, received his first holy communion and celebrated his first mass after his ordination.

Due to Covid-19, the Kiltegan Fathers had updated the funeral wishes of their members in 2020 and Fr Cronin chose his beloved Coomhola church for his requiem mass.

“Little did Fr Con think a year ago when that was done that in fact we would be here (in St Joseph’s) today,” the Bishop of Cork and Ross Dr Fintan Gavin said.

The mourners were led by Fr Cronin’s brother, Teddy and sisters-in-law, Margaret and Mary, and extended family.

Earlier in Ballincollig, Mr Wills was hailed as a respected Bus Éireann driver, “a doting” father, a loyal friend and a devoted family man.

The mourners were led by his children, Cillian and Rebecca, his parents, Stephen and Madelene, and his siblings, Gwen, his twin brother Stephen, Brian and Ken.

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