Tributes paid at funeral of man killed in Norwegian kayak incident


A CO Cork man who died in a kayaking incident in Norway was remembered yesterday as a courageous and fearless leader who had lived life to the full.

Colm Johnson (24), from Clancoolmore, was kayaking on the Sjoa river with others last week when he got into difficulties.

Hundreds of mourners packed into St Patrick’s Church in Bandon yesterday for his funeral Mass.

A rugby jersey, kayaking helmet and book were among the gifts brought to the altar at the beginning of the service, symbolising his love of rugby, kayaking and reading.

Fr Tom Sexton told the large congregation gathered for the Mass – which was concelebrated by a large number of priests including the Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley – that Mr Johnson, a keen kayaker since his first year at the University of Limerick, was a man of energy, courage and passion “who brought excitement into the lives of those around him”.

He compared him to some of the great adventurers, such as Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who conquered Mount Everest in 1953, and said that like them, he had “needed more” than what the dull repetition of routine had to offer.

“He was a man who had trained, a man who was experienced and a man who had taken on the challenge of the ravine in Norway with his kayak so that he too might conquer it,” he said.

“Unfortunately, a freak set of circumstances tilted the balance against him.”

His sister Niamh paid tribute to her younger brother who, she said, “loved the life of adventure that kayaking offered”.

After the Mass, a guard of honour was formed by kayaking clubs from the University of Limerick and University College Cork, where Mr Johnson had also studied.