Funeral of Patrick Halpin takes place in Galway

Sister pays tribute to DCU student who died on London trip

The bright, brief and happy life of a brilliant student who loved books, drama and sport in equal measure was recalled today when over 1,000 people attended the funeral Mass for Patrick Halpin in Loughrea, Co Galway

The bright, brief and happy life of a brilliant student who loved books, drama and sport in equal measure was recalled today when over 1,000 people attended the funeral Mass for Patrick Halpin in Loughrea, Co Galway

Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 18:53

LORNA SIGGINS

The bright, brief and happy life of a brilliant student who loved books, drama and sport in equal measure was recalled today when over 1,000 people attended the funeral Mass for Patrick Halpin in Loughrea, Co Galway.

A “wonderfully multi-faceted” younger brother who was a “fierce, fierce friend” was how his older sister Regina Ní hAilpín described the 18-year-old at the Mass in St Brendan’s Cathedral, Loughrea.

However, his death was “not a tragedy”, she emphasised, because he had lived life to the full, he would “not be reduced by the evils of this world”, and she urged those present to “live your life like Patrick did, with a smile and a song”.

The twin worlds of art and sport in which Patrick had been so enthusiastically involved were represented at the Mass which was celebrated by Fr Joe Clarke, parish priest of Kilnadeema, Co Galway.

Mr Halpin had been on a trip to London’s West End with the Dublin City University (DCU) drama society when he went missing. His body was found on the roof of a restaurant off Leicester Square on February 6th. Postmortem results have been inconclusive.

At his funeral, his sister thanked the London Metropolitan Police, and the many at home and abroad who had provided support to her, and her parents Paddy and Elsie.

In her moving tribute, Ms Ní hAilpín related her brother’s many academic and sporting achievements, and his attributes – “quiet yet friendly, careful, but not boring, fun, but not wild, charismatic, laid back, but not lazy, passionate, intelligent”.

She described the race between them to read Harry Potter, how he loved IQ and Top Gear, and how they would watch re-runs of the television series, Friends and comedian Dara Ó Briain together.

“If Patrick enjoyed something, he gave himself wholeheartedly to it,”she said, recalling how he gave equal time and commitment to both hurling and football which he loved. He learned to play volleyball at St Brigid’s Vocational Education College (VEC), was on the Irish team to junior level, and was “hugely involved in community games”.

He took up karate, his mother having led the way with her black belt qualifications, but he was “never so happy as to be on stage”.

It was with Loughrea Youth Theatre (LYT) that he “really came into his own”, she said,gaining confidence and friends.

“To say Patrick loved music would be an understatement,” she said, and she recalled how when they had the house to themselves they would sing numbers from Matilda and Wicked “ at the tops of our lungs”.

She was “never so proud as a sister” as when he qualified to study actuary at DCU.

“Galway has been struck by tragedies in the last few months”, she said, but she would like “to challenge” the concept of tragedy in her brother’s case.

“As we grow older, you grow apart from people. Life’s worries take hold, but a young person like Patrick really lived,”she said.

His death was not a tragedy, she reiterated. “He had reached perfection and God took him,”she said. “He won’t be reduced by the evils of this world. He is not gone too soon, he’s gone just in time.”

“Be glad you know him, be glad he touched your life,”she said, appealing to the congregation to “forget old arguments and invite old friends back into your life” and to “live your life like Patrick did, with a smile and a song”.

In his homily, Fr Joe Clarke described how the student had been encouraged and supported by his parents to develop his many attributes, and how he had “packed so much in”.

Social media had its dangers, but also its benefits, Fr Clarke said, in that it had played a role in the appeal for information when Patrick went missing in London. “A balance is what we look for,”he said.

Music was by members of Loughrea Youth Theatre, who also sang for seven hours in a marquee at the Halpin residence yesterday when hundreds of people visited to express sympathy and condolences.

Fellow hurling, football and volleyball players, students from school and college and members of Loughrea Youth Theatre and St Brendan’s Choral and Dramatic Society formed a guard of honour in Loughrea, as the hearse left the cathedral.

Another guard of honour was formed by members of Kilnadeema/Leitrim GAA club as the hearse approached the cemetery at Kilnadeema, via Patrick Halpin’s family home.