road tragedy | 

Funeral mass for Room to Improve carpenter Karl Cullen hears he was 'kind, loving' and 'deep'

Karl's oak coffin was adorned with white roses and lilies

Dermot Bannon and the late Karl Cullen

Sarah Slater

Mourners at RTÉ’s talented Room to Improve carpenter, Karl Cullen, were told how his family and community have been left “devastated” by his death as he was laid to rest following his Funeral Mass on Friday.

Karl “Chalky” Cullen (30) from Rockfield, Milehouse, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford died when the car he was driving hit a ditch on the R744 in Clonhaston at 7.30pm on Sunday and burst into flames.

Mr Cullen, was the eldest of three sons, of Karl Snr and mother Annette, he played for Shamrocks GAA Club who paid tribute to the “fantastic” sportsman.

His oak coffin adored with white roses and lilies and a photograph of a smiling Mr Cullen and his Shamrocks green and white GAA was carried into St Senan’s Parish Church in Enniscorthy by seven pall bearers to the air of Strawberry Fields.

Close friend Mick Weaver, Principal of Kennedy College, in New Ross told hundreds of mourners who gathered both inside and outside the Church that “the last few days have been sobering."

“We have learnt so much about Karl. The people he met, the people he helped, he was so kind to all of them.

"The number of people that Karl connected with daily was almost unbelievable. Every story told reflected Karl’s core values, honesty, effort, loyalty and family.

“Karl was stubborn, tenacious, kind, loving, deep, sensitive, sentimental and nostalgic.

"An incredible person. Karl had an unquenchable thirst for life, the only problem was that life moved too slow but now Karl you can finally rest. I have no doubt you are with your granddad Johnny. He always felt that Johnny really knew him.

“He was happy, content, at peace with himself. “Karl ‘Chalky” Cullen, a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, a grandson, nephew, colleague, businessman, hurler, footballer, team mate, horseman, dog man and hunter. Karl was unique.

"Our little town has been united in grief in times before but this feels different. Not only are we united in our grief, but in the love, admiration and respect of Karl.

The late Karl Cullen

“I was lucky enough to sit down with Karl Snr and Annette over the past few days and asked them what was Karl like as a child?

"They both said, ‘Oh fiddlesticks.' They said Karl went his own way, he ploughed his own furrow. Karl was a lovable rogue.”

Mr Weaver added: “Darren and Diarmuid (his younger brother) idolised Karl.

"He always was the protective brother and he took this role very, very seriously. Karl made sure that he provided them with opportunities.

"He was competitive and he believed in his skills and his competitiveness.

“He had such a drive to succeed. School sports days were taken as seriously as the Olympics. There was never a finish line, he was always onto the next challenge.

"Mixing with the best in the business on RTÉ's Room to Improve, putting in kitchens in homes worth more than a million, he never lost touch with his baseline and showed empathy with each individual, often making kitchens at a loss because he demanded perfection.

"He wanted to deliver the best project because he believed people deserved it.”

Mourners heard how he turned wood into masterpieces and homes in mansions, a life he lived with not a second to be wasted.

They were told that their “consciousness of life” was shattered. Their loss is like a “great dividing gulf of pain, and this community is heartbroken and devastated with his family.

“It is unimaginable and unconscionable. We have all been frozen. He had a lion’s heart.

"Karl was just Karl, it didn’t matter that he made the TV. He just moved on. Karl stole our hearts.”

Meanwhile, RTÉ colleague Dermot Bannon paid tribute to his “unbelievably talented” friend.

Mr Bannon said: “He played a huge part on Room to Improve over the years creating some of the most beautiful joinery, a fantastic problem solver, enthusiastic collaborator and an all-round wonderful soul.

“Heartbroken for his parents Karl and Annette, his Brothers Darren and Diarmuid and all his family.”

Mr Cullen was laid to rest following his midday Funeral Mass at Enniscorthy Cemetery.

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