Clongowes bids sad farewell to 'loveable rogue'

Mon, Jan 7, 2013, 00:00

Students from Clongowes Wood lined the school’s avenue to say a final goodbye to fellow pupil Andrew Clarke as the funeral cortege left for Mount Jerome Cemetery on Saturday.

The 16-year-old, who died in an accident at his home, was the only son of Derry and Sallyanne Clarke who run the Michelin-starred l’Écrivain restaurant on Dublin’s Baggot Street. He is also survived by his sister Sarah May.

The motorsports enthusiast had been working underneath a car in the garage at the family home in Saggart when his mother discovered him unconscious on Thursday, December 27th. He was taken to Tallaght Hospital but died the following Monday.

The boarding school in Clane, Co Kildare, was his second home, his father Derry said at the funeral Mass in the school’s chapel, which was packed with family and close friends. Hundreds more watched the ceremony on screens erected in the school.

Celebrating the Mass, school headmaster Fr Leonard Moloney said the teenager’s death was devastating and incomprehensible as he was so young.

‘Loveable rogue’

He recalled advice given to author Joan Didion after her husband died suddenly, when someone told her to suffer, because her husband was worth it. “So in some sense there is no escaping that you suffer,” he said. “But know that you are not alone. We journey with you.” He said Andrew was a “loveable rogue” who had coined nicknames for every teacher and prefect at Clongowes within two weeks of his arrival.

“There was much hidden talent, much energy, and he liked to live on the edge,” he said. “He came across as a young man in good form, always smiling. And we’re all familiar with that impish grin.”

His mother Sallyanne said he may have been six foot four and a half and 17 stone “but he was still my baby boy”.

“Andrew had confidence beyond his years. He was a very witty boy with a heart of gold. Loved everyone and everyone loved him. And if prayers and goodwill alone could sustain life over the last few days then Andrew would be jumping up and down at this moment.”

Like his chef father, he loved food and “would eat the leg of a chair if it was seasoned properly”, she said. His father brought him motor-racing “because I just couldn’t bear to see my baby going around corners at 100 miles an hour”.

‘Free spirited’

Symbols of his life brought to the altar included the trophy he won for coming third in the Ginetta junior racing championships.

Derry Clarke said Andrew had always seemed older than his years, “free spirited and determined”. He thanked the staff at Tallaght Hospital and the members of the ambulance and emergency services who had helped his son.

“And finally Andrew, thank you for being the son any dad would be proud of, you beautiful young man. My feelings for you will never, ever change. You’ll always be my heart.”

His sister Sarah May said her younger brother was a “real funny kid” who constantly had her in stitches. “He was fearless and a true hero. He was my best friend and the love of my life and he’ll never be forgotten.”

Mourners included figures from the food industry Dylan McGrath, Paul Rankin, Myrtle and Darina Allen, Andrew Rudd and Paul Flynn. Also there were RTÉ’s Pat Kenny and Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, and food critic Paulo Tullio.