tragedy | 

Tributes paid at funeral of young Irish man struck and killed by train in New Jersey accident

It is understood that Anthony Mulhearn (24) had been in America on a visa in the Spring Lake borough, near the Jersey Shore area

Aoife BreslinIndependent.ie

Tributes have been paid at the funeral of young Irishman Anthony Mulhearn, who died after he was hit by a train in New Jersey.

Mr Mulhearn was killed after the accident in the US on December 15 and the service was held today in Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny.

It is understood that Mr Mulhearn (24) had been in America on a visa in the Spring Lake borough, near the Jersey Shore area.

The Kilkenny native is survived by his father and mother, Josie and Niall, and his three brothers Thomas, Pat, and Niall Jr.

In his homily, Mullinavat parish priest Fr Liam Barron offered his condolences to the Mulhearn family.

“The news of this tragedy has stunned the whole parish. For those of us who knew Anthony, this occasion in church has an air of unreality around it, we cannot believe what has happened,” he said.

“For his parents and family, the event is a nightmare, which they would hope to awaken from. The suddenness of Anthony’s passing leaves us stunned by grief.

“We know that however hard we try, none of us can really enter into the world of his mother and father and share their pain of loss. Their sorrow is something only they themselves can know. This kind of bereavement is dark, private and exclusive – in this sense we are all outsiders at this moment of their mourning.

“It may be common for the children to be present at the funeral of a parent, but it goes against the grain in the normal run of life for a parent to bury a child, so our hearts go out today to Anthony’s parents Niall and Josie, and his siblings.”

His greatest hobby was his drama and he got to express that through the Waterford Youth Art. I still remember going to see him in a show and he just got a real kick out of it

At the beginning of the funeral mass, gifts that symbolise Mr Mulhearn’s life were brought up, including a book to symbolise “Anthony’s great love for literature, and for the gift of learning in his life”.

Arts and drama was a huge passion of Mr Mulhearn’s, with a photo of his drama group presented to the altar.

“A photo of his drama group, his love for the stage, his love to be able to perform, to entertain, and to be able to bring a smile to people's faces,” said Fr Barron.

The final gift brought up was a photo of the Mulhearn family, to symbolise Anthony’s love for his family.

“Being brought forward is a photograph of the Mulhearn family, no doubt it brings home to us that no matter where Anthony travelled at home and abroad he always carried his family in his heart.”

Fr Barron also spoke of the shock that Mr Mulhearn’s death has brought to the community of Mullinavat.

“We are visibly shaken as a community of Anthony’s death. We are thrown by the suddenness and horror of what happened, we cannot simply understand it,” he said.

“This afternoon we have so many questions and we have no answers, we have no satisfactory explanations. We do not know what to believe or accept, that the person we have known so well and loved is now dead and gone from us.

“In a sense we are paranoid and suspended in disbelief. Today here in this church there is a huge emptiness in our hearts because Anthony has been taken away from us, a modern young man who was so full of life and so young in his years.”

Fr Barron described Mr Mulhearn as a man who acquired traits of “goodness and kindness”.

“His work in this world was not finished, he was in the prime of his life, and so healthy. He still had so much to do and so much to give to others, because he was blessed with the gift of generosity,” he said.

“So, what are we to do and how are we to cope? This mass is a sad occasion for all of us, but it is also a celebration of Anthony’s life and we have much to be thankful for, talking to family members and neighbours since his death.

“In life, Anthony never wanted anything unusual, but he planned and studied hard for his top priorities in literature.

“Through his planning, studies and work, he dreamed of a bright future for himself, so Niall, Josie and siblings will never forget these happy years spent with Anthony.”

Anthony’s brother Thomas said a eulogy in memory of his late brother, describing him as “the most caring and loving person”.

“Anthony had a very short life but a very rich one, he wasn’t like the rest of us but we loved him more because of that.

“His greatest hobby was his drama and he got to express that through the Waterford Youth Art. I still remember going to see him in a show and he just got a real kick out of it,” said Thomas.

“He had a teacher, Tom O’Brien, and I remember him saying that Anthony was quite a standout actor from the time he was young in Mullinavat.

“The last thing Anthony did before he left for America was he went into the shop and brought raffle tickets and scratch cards and brought them down to a widow that lived down the street from us in Mullinavat.

“That pretty much sums up our brother Anthony. He was the most caring, loving person you could ever meet. He never ever fell out with anybody and we will love him forever.”

Anthony’s family asked that those that can donate to the Kevin Bell Trust, which is the charity that helped bring Anthony’s remains home from the US.


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