tragic | 

Jack de Bromhead’s sisters pay moving tribute to their ‘beautiful brother’ at his funeral

Jack is laid to rest after tragically early death.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead (left), father of Jack de Bromhead carries his son coffin after the funeral service © PA


To them, he was Jacksie, their adorably cheeky “one-of-a-kind child”. The boy who would never go to bed without faithfully saying: “Night mum, night dad, love you.”

Jack de Bromhead was the charismatic 13-year-old who got away with greeting the fathers of his friends with an affable thump.

The daredevil young sportsman who succeeded “in everything he liked”, whether that was driving tractors or impressing his family with his “incredible” skill on the hunting horn.

He was the first de Bromhead to play football and hurling for the local GAA club at Butlerstown.

Jack’s broken-hearted parents, Henry and Heather, stood at the altar in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, just down the hill from the gallops of their famous yard in Butlerstown, Co Waterford, with a message for mourners.

“Whoever you love, make sure you tell them. Because if something like this happens to you, something so tragic as it is, happens to you, it’s a great comfort,” Mr de Bromhead said, with his wife gesturing in agreement.

“I’d love you all to take that away with you, we’d really appreciate it.”

Jack died after a fall during the Glenbeigh Racing Festival in Co Kerry last Saturday.

Family and friends gathered yesterday to mourn him, among them many of his heroes from the world of riding.

Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty, Charlie Swan and Robbie Power were there, together with trainers including Mouse Morris and Shark Hanlon and ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin.

Rachael Blackmore, who rides for the De Bromhead yard, stood at the gate of the churchyard to await the arrival of the hearse.

Representing President Michael D Higgins was his aide de camp, Colonel Stephen Howard, while Taoiseach Micheál Martin was represented by Commandant Stephen McEoin.

Along with Jack’s parents, the chief mourners were his twin sister Mia and younger sister Georgia, who was “more like a triplet”; his grandparents, Andrew and Maria Moffat and Sally and Harry de Bromhead; aunts, uncles and cousins.

The cortege moved slowly, headed by two tractors symbolising Jack’s love of farming and farm vehicles, and the bells of the Angelus sounded as the willow casket was carried into the church.

Fr Pat Fitzgerald told mourners: “We are gathered to celebrate the life of a young boy who has captured the hearts of not just a parish but of a nation and far beyond.

“We feel his unthinkable loss most acutely as we watch repeated showings of Jack’s beguiling interview on RTÉ with racing commentator Brian Gleeson, when he answered questions like a veteran about Honeysuckle’s upcoming race.

“We are joining a family which has scaled the heights of jubilation – and brought us with them – and which now has to plumb the deepest depths of sorrow, and we must walk with them.”

Prayers of the faithful were read by Jack’s sisters. Georgia described him as “the kindest, bravest, most caring big brother I could ever ask for”.

“He was never scared to stand up for people and was always there for you, no matter what,” she said.

“He had such a bright future ahead of him, but sadly it was all taken away from him so early. Life will never be the same without Jack.”

Mia said: “Jack, you were the best brother ever. I got so lucky when you were born with me.

“I will miss your cheeky smile that made all my friends fall in love with you. May you rest in peace my beautiful brother.”

Family and friends paid tribute to Jack’s love of nature.

Then Mr Moffat spoke with immense sorrow of his grandson, who had allayed his worries over how he had fared in his first week of boarding school with an airy: “Well, Grandy boy, it’s like this – they’re mostly farmers’ kids. They’re now all in my gang. There won’t be any rival groups.”

Mr Moffat told how, late last Saturday afternoon, he had driven Jack down to Glenbeigh for the races because Henry had a previous engagement.

That day, “all our hopes and dreams for our beautiful, charming, charismatic, wonderful Jack shattered for ever”, he said.

“In the dark murky Atlantic waters, the horse came down and Jack was thrown, with the horse delivering a fatal blow to Jack’s head.”

Mr de Bromhead then spoke of the “incredible support” shown to the family.

Pony racing had been his son’s passion.

“He just loved it, guys, he loved it. You reflect on things, ask yourself things, but he loved it,” he said.

He had taken Jack to Cahersiveen the previous weekend for the horse and pony races at Caheran racetrack, which had been gifted to the people of the area by Daniel O’Connell.

It was a four-hour drive, but “I’d do it every day of the week now”, Mr de Bromhead said.

Jack came second in the first race,got a “b******ing, not from me because he should have won”, said Henry. He had come fourth in another, won the 12-furlong contest and then had a fall.

He had asked his son: “Buddy, what about the fall – would it put you off?”

“Hen, boy, if you can’t take the falls you can’t be doing it,” was Jack’s reply.

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