Irish in London attend funeral of man with no mourners

Man often wore his Kerry jersey in carehome in west London

John Lynch, from Ballylongford, Co Kerry, died last month. Photograph: Daniel Keane

John Lynch, from Ballylongford, Co Kerry, died last month. Photograph: Daniel Keane

 

Over 130 members of the Irish community attended a funeral service in London on Tuesday for an elderly Irishman who died without any known living relatives.

John Lynch, from Ballylongford, Co Kerry, died last month.

Brendan Vaughan, from Donegal, used Radio Kerry and social media channels to encourage anyone from Ireland living in London to pay their respects.

Mr Lynch left for London with his parents at the age of two, and worked as a fitter. He spent his final months in a care home in Greenford, west London, where he often wore his Kerry jersey.

No living relatives could be found for Mr Lynch. Mr Vaughan helped organise the funeral service, which took place at the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation in Greenford and was attended by various members of the Kerry Association.

Mr Vaughan had been friendly with Mr Lynch for two years, and visited him in the home. On hearing of his death, Mr Vaughan attempted to gather a crowd for the funeral.

“Somebody suggested I should phone Radio Kerry, so I did, and the response from the radio station gave it a huge boost. He was a proud Kerry man,” Mr Vaughan said.

“ Hopefully someone in Ballylongford can give us a date of birth so we can find out more.”

Sally Mulready, director of the Irish Elderly Advice Network, said despite advances in dealing with isolation among London’s elderly Irish community, support was often not available.

“The isolation becomes more acute in areas where there aren’t huge resources available. Greenford is a good bit away from any of the services I know that could have been supportive for him.”

In addition, Ms Mulready said a lack of cultural connection contributed to the isolation experienced by some elderly Irish people living in care homes, like Mr Lynch.

“Often they feel an isolation of their own cultural background. Their physical needs are looked after but their emotional needs are not. We might look at how to set up residential care with Irish-specific cultural support. The Jewish community manage it, the Greek community manage it, and so we can manage it.”