‘Farewell, my precious lad’ – Heartbroken mother’s poignant words at funeral for Irish teen lost in Greece

Tragic Accidental Fall Claims the Life of Irish Student on Holiday in Ios
‘Farewell, my precious lad’ – Heartbroken mother's poignant words at funeral for Irish teen lost in Greece

Tragic Deaths of Two Students on Greek Island of Ios

Two students from St Michael’s College in Ballsbridge, Andrew O’Donnell (18) and Max Wall, have tragically lost their lives while on holiday on the island of Ios. Andrew had decided to return to his accommodation early while out with friends and unfortunately suffered a fall on his way. He was reported missing, and his body was found on rocks the next day. Max Wall died suddenly the following day while making his way to the ferry terminal. His funeral took place on Monday, where it was revealed that he had undergone complex heart surgery three years ago. The deaths of these young men have left their families and community devastated.

At the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, the chaplain of St Michael’s, Fr Paddy Moran, expressed the unimaginable grief felt by Andrew’s family. Fr Moran spoke of Andrew’s bright future, as he had applied to several English universities and had a promising path ahead. He highlighted the tragic nature of Andrew’s death, stating that a simple fall on a mountaintop had taken away his dreams, hopes, and ambitions.

Fr Moran shared a heartwarming story about Andrew’s loving Mother’s Day card for his mother Bebhinn. The card also contained a message for the Irish rugby team heading to the World Cup France later that year. The message read, “PS Is there any greater present than the Grand Slam?” Fr Moran also recounted a humorous incident where Andrew invited friends over while his parents were out. When his younger brother, Rory, returned home, he discovered that the house had been burgled. This anecdote brought some laughter during a time of profound sadness.

During the funeral, symbols representing Andrew’s life were brought to the altar. These included his sporting medals, jerseys, a football, a dog lead to symbolize his love for his Golden Retrievers, a Kanye West vinyl record, a Bluetooth speaker, and his graduation cap from St Michael’s College. Andrew’s father, Gavin, expressed immense pride in his son and spoke of the everlasting impact he had on their lives.

Bebhinn, Andrew’s mother, described her son as someone who lived on his own terms and had his own sense of time. She shared how they had bonded over perfecting the best cheese toastie in recent weeks, providing a distraction from the stress of the Leaving Cert. Bebhinn spoke of the late-night trips Andrew and Rory would make to Spar on Bath Avenue, acknowledging that she was secretly delighted about these escapades. She learned from Andrew’s friends how funny and mischievous he was and now keeps his music playlist on her phone. As a tribute to Andrew, his friends suggested playing “Mr Rager” by Kid Cudi at his cremation, as the lyrics resonated with his next chapter.

Andrew was a passionate sports enthusiast and was involved in various clubs, including Old Belvedere rugby club, Belmont FC, Railway Union Sports Club, and Clanna Gael Fontenoy GAA club. Following the Requiem Mass, his wicker coffin was driven to the grounds of St Michael’s College, with his school friends carrying yellow roses and members of Belmont FC lining the road. The mass was attended by Archbishop of Dublin Ciaran O’Carroll, as well as ministers Simon Coveney and Norma Foley. President Michael D Higgins was represented by his Aide de Camp Commandant Stephen Howard.

The deaths of Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall have left a profound impact on their families, friends, and the wider community. Their promising futures have been tragically cut short, leaving a void that will never be filled. As the community mourns their loss, they will always be remembered for the joy and love they brought into the lives of those around them.