Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Church of St Brigid in Grangegeeth, Co Meath, to attend the Requiem Mass of Brendan Wall (45) and retired Canadian accountant Ivan Chittenden (65). The two men tragically lost their lives during the opening 1.9km sea swim leg of the Ironman race in Youghal. Brendan Wall, who would have celebrated his 46th birthday next Monday, was a sales executive and had recently proposed to his long-time girlfriend Tina. The couple were planning to get married next year.
The Requiem Mass for Brendan Wall was conducted by parish priest Fr Gerry Boyle, who described the double tragedy as devastating. Fr Boyle spoke of Brendan’s excitement for the Ironman race and his dedication to training. He mentioned that Brendan was planning to take dancing lessons to prepare for the first dance at his wedding. The congregation was moved by the symbols brought to the altar by Brendan’s family, including his triathlon cycling helmet, a Meath jersey, a golf ball, and a deck of playing cards.
Fr Boyle also highlighted Brendan’s love for endurance sports, as he had previously completed the London Marathon, the Ring of Kerry cycle race, and the Gael Force endurance cycle. He emphasized Brendan’s deep love for his family and the special place that Grangegeeth and Slane held in his heart. Brendan Wall had worked for a Cavan firm before accepting a promotion as sales director at a manufacturing company in Solihull, UK.
Ivan Chittenden’s remains were cremated in Ireland before being flown back to Canada for a funeral service. The deaths of Brendan Wall and Ivan Chittenden have sparked multiple investigations into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Finance Minister McGrath have called for comprehensive answers to be provided.
As Brendan Wall’s funeral took place, Youghal locals organized a candlelit vigil to show solidarity with the families of the two athletes who lost their lives during the Ironman Cork event. The vigil, held at Green Park in Youghal, was attended by hundreds of people who wanted to offer their support and condolences to the bereaved families. Floral tributes were placed on Youghal’s seafront in honor of Brendan Wall and Ivan Chittenden. The Salty Souls, a Youghal sea swimmers group, held a minute’s silence before their daily outing as a tribute to the two men.
Gardaí will prepare a file on the deaths for the Cork coroner, and investigations will be conducted by Ironman Cork/Ireland and Water Safety Ireland/Sport Ireland. The precise timeline of the event and the communication between Ironman Cork/Ireland and Triathlon Ireland regarding the adverse weather conditions in Youghal are subjects of dispute. Ironman Cork claims they were only informed about the refusal to sanction the race after the sea swim had concluded. Inquests into the deaths of Brendan Wall and Ivan Chittenden will take place next year.