Friends gather to say goodbye to gangland murder victim

Jamie Tighe had champagne lifestyle he could not afford, says priest

Friends form a guard of honour on motorcycles at the funeral of Jamie Tighe (24) from Darndale, who was shot dead while talking to friends on the street. Photograph: Collins

Friends form a guard of honour on motorcycles at the funeral of Jamie Tighe (24) from Darndale, who was shot dead while talking to friends on the street. Photograph: Collins

 

If Ernest Hemingway, who famously misquoted Scott Fitzgerald’s remark about the rich being different, had visited Darndale yesterday, he might have observed that deep down, people everywhere are actually the same when it comes to life, love and death.

In this most disadvantaged part of Dublin, a fact visible daily all around them, they gathered to say sorrowful goodbye to someone they loved – a man whose life had barely begun and was lived in high-octane fashion, only to end, abruptly and with bullets, another soon-to-be-forgotten gangland murder.

Jamie Tighe was hanging around with a few friends on Moatview Avenue in nearby Coolock at 2.20am on Saturday, October 28th. A man walked over to them, lifted a handgun and shot Tighe in the head. He was just 24.

He was “a mad fella”, one report of the shooting quoted a source saying. “Sure, he had very serious criminal convictions before he even turned 18. He always said he would never live past the age of 30 and so it has proved.”

As the white, glass-cased horse-drawn hearse containing his body proceeded along the link road towards Our Lady Immaculate Church, the black plumes of its two ponies bobbing above the roofs of parked cars, 11 bikers lined up facing the building, twisting their throttles back and forth, zero to max, again and again.

Vroom, vroom screeches ripped through the air, dying quiet only as the horses drew to a standstill at the church door.

The bikers all wore white T-shirts with Jamie RIP writing on them above a photograph of Tighe, shown astride his blue and white racer. A clutch of young girls wearing spandex trousers and similar black tee-shirts followed the bulky casket-style coffin to the strains of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

“Dear brother,” his sister Kayleigh began, reading her poem to a congregation of 700, “You never said goodbye . . .” . . .you were gone before we knew it and only God knows why. A million times we miss you, a million times we cry. . . In life we loved you dearly, in death we love you still In our hearts you hold a place no one else can ever fill It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn’t go alone For part of us went with you, the day God took you home.

In truth, not only does God know why, but so too does everyone else. By his early 20s, Tighe had a serious record for firearms possession and assaulting a garda. He had connections with the Hutch gang, although his murder is not thought to be linked to the Hutch/Kinahan feud.

But he was close, too, to the man suspected of carrying out a double killing in Ballymun in August – a connection that reportedly prompted some of Derek “Bottler” Devoy’s associates to taunt Tighe’s relatives after his murder.

“We are remembering a man who crossed many spectrums in life,” as Fr Leo Philomin put it as he welcomed mourners.

Mementoes brought to the altar remembered “the one they loved, the one who gave them laughter, stories, the one they didn’t know what he would come out with next,” said Fr Philomin.

Bottle of Moët & Chandon

They included photos of niece Lolita and nephew Ryan; a scarf, hat and white socks (“Little reminders of a man who always presented himself in the best of gear,” said the priest); after shave, a nail clipper and watch (“He loved watches and it wouldn’t be your €20 watch,” but still for some reason always still asked his mother what time it was); and a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne.

“He had a champagne lifestyle even though he couldn’t afford it,” said Fr Philomin.

“What is a young man doing in a coffin when he should be alive and well?” he asked, urging Tighe’s family to keep alive in themselves God’s message in the coming days.

“We gather because someone, somewhere thought it was right to take the life of another. Someone, somewhere thought it was right to deprive a family of a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew,” he said.

“Someone, somewhere thought, in their little-mindedness, and in disregard for human life, that it was justified that Jamie’s life be extinguished, should no longer walk among us.

“No one has that right. No one has the right to deprive another of their life, however that life is lived. No one has the right to take away the dignity of a young man, a son of God, whether we see it or not, a son of a mother and a father.

“At times like this, we often ask why? Sometimes we can say it was the way someone lived their life. Some can say this is not fair. . .”

The most difficult task, and the highest honour, fell to Tighe’s cousin, Stuart, whose eulogy recalled youthful mischief, high jinks and times infused with laughter.

“Jamie the most happiest, carefree person you could meet. He had the biggest smile and a laugh that was contagious,” said Stuart. A slideshow showed photographs of a beautiful, fair-haired young boy, and latter-day handsome young man in everyday settings with family and friends – light years removed from the life that led to his death and drawing tears from many.

He recalled a night when Tighe put a hijacked forklift truck “into reverse and pulled the whole electricity pole off the wall, caused thousands worth of damage”. The story was greeted with laughter

Recently, he had talked about getting a crocodile.

“Where will we keep it?” asked his dad, according to Stuart.

“In a glass case,” said Jamie.

“What when he grows about 12 foot long Jamie?” asked his dad.

“Put it out the back.”

“I’m sure he would have bought a lead and brought it on a long walk ’cus that’s the sort Jamie was,” Stuart declared, before breaking down.

The church emptied, the cortege went to Fingal cemetery. The bikers renewed their tribute – vroom. vroom. echoing off the bare landscape and raw, concrete walls – in what is highly unlikely to be their last funeral.