Funeral of Dónal English Hayden (14) takes place in Co Carlow

Teenager, who died after farm incident, recalled as an honest, headstrong and curious charcater

The funeral of 14-year-old Dónal English Hayden, who was killed in an incident on a farm in Co Carlow during the week, has taken place.

Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, the chief celebrant of the Mass at Saint Patrick’s Church in Rathoe, said Dónal was a headstrong character who had a real “zest and passion” for life.

“He was fun; he was affectionate; he was caring; he was tender … except on the hurling field … and there may be a few here today who have scars as evidence of that,” Fr Ó Maoldhomhnaigh said.

“His mam, Noeleen, said yesterday at the family meeting to plan today’s funeral Mass that Dónal, ‘gave kisses in threes’. Dónal was impish. He asked questions; he had an inquiring mind; he was straightforward; he was honest. He was ceanndána ... headstrong.”


The teenager died as a result of injuries sustained while he and and his brother (15) were helping a neighbouring farmer in a sugar beet field near Ballon on Wednesday. It is understood Dónal became pinned under a trailer. He died later at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny.

The chief mourners at the Mass were his parents Matt and Noeleen, and brothers Matthew, Seamus and Moling, sisters Deirdre, Claire and Maria and grandmother Maggie English.

A hurley, a toy tractor, a toy cow and medals were presented as symbols of Dónal’s life by his brother and cousins before the service started. There were readings from Dónal’s siblings Matthew and Deirdre.

Fr Ó Maoldhomhnaigh said a “fear and trembling” gripped the community when it heard about Dónal’s death.

“Our thoughts turned to his family. We asked how anyone could cope with such a loss as this,” he said. “At times, the sense of loss is overbearing, especially when the death is that of a young person. We are affected physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Fr Ó Maoldhomhnaigh said his thoughts were especially with young people trying to deal with the loss.

He recalled Dónal’s love of playing hurling, saying: “It was said of Dónal that due to his sometime vigorous playing on the pitch that he became known to many a referee. Now he has his hand in the hand of the great referee.

“I don’t know what kind of cards they have in heaven, whether they have the black, the yellow or the red, but I am sure Dónal is making the case for there being no need for any cards at all or at least to have end to the black card.

“I’m sure in Donal’s case it will be a green card, green for go...To go deeper and deeper into heaven where they only have the best cows, the best behaved rabbits, the kind of plants that he will only have to plant and that will water themselves, the top of the range red sauce and an eternal supply of jelly and ice-cream.”

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is an Irish Times journalist