Funeral of Red Óg Murphy hears plea for young people to confide in best friends

Priest tells mourners: ‘Bare your feelings, express your anger, vent your rage, bring into the open unanswered questions’

Red Óg Murphy playing for DCU. File photograph: Tom Maher/Inpho

The funeral of 21-year-old Sligo football star Red Óg Murphy has heard a plea for young people in Ireland to confide in their best friend if they are suffering.

Red Óg Murphy, of Moylough, Curry, who was training to be a primary school teacher, was found dead at his accommodation in Dublin last Friday.

Hundreds packed into his local St Patrick’s Church, with an overflow of mourners in the adjoining heritage centre and church grounds, to pay their final farewell to the young man described as a “charismatic” student and “outstanding athlete”.

Fr Leo Henry said it was a “very sensitive time” for Murphy’s family and wide circle of friends, with “so many emotions running deep, among them sorrow, pain and guilt”.


It was a “huge cocktail of mixed emotions” which has left them in “uncharted territory”.

Addressing the young people of Ireland, Fr Henry said: “Please, please talk. Bare your feelings, express your anger, vent your rage, bring into the open unanswered questions.”

Fr Henry said sometimes that need for help could mean professional counselling, adding that there are “so many agencies out there waiting for your call, waiting to provide the support you may need”.

“It is okay not to be okay, okay to talk, okay to ask for help,” he said.

“To our young people . . . you are our precious future, you are the salt of earth, the light of our lives.

“I ask you today one favour. Please make a pledge to your best friend, namely if you are feeling unwell, tell them.

“Tell one person, your best friend, and your best friend will do the rest, act immediately and get you the help you need. I ask you to make that pledge today.”

Carried by a series of pallbearers dressed in club colours, Murphy’s coffin arrived at the small church, draped in the green and white of his local GAA club, Curry. He also played for his county, Sligo, and for Dublin City University (DCU), where he was studying.

A portrait of him smiling on the playing pitch was placed on the coffin during the funeral Mass. Offertory gifts brought to the altar as symbols of his life included a football and football boots, a crucifix he made in school and a photo of his family “united in love”.

A textbook marked his chosen career, a pair of “fancy socks” his style and fashion, while an All-Star Sigerson award was offered to show his life-long passion for Gaelic games.

Red Óg Murphy was “one of those special people you are privileged to meet”, he had “charisma in abundance, a towering physical presence, warmth and close eye contact,” said Fr Henry.

“Courteous and respectful”, he also had “a special gift of having time for everyone.”

“It was never ‘howya’ and move on, it was always ‘howya’ and a chat,” he said.

He was “loved and cherished and admired by so many people across as many boundaries” while his presence “put a smile on your face, put a pep in your step”.

“What Red Óg achieved in 21 years might take others four score years and 10 to achieve,” Fr Henry told the congregation, including those watching online from New York, Australia and India.

A “role model for so many” he brought joy to so many lives “both on and off the field of play”.

Fr Henry said his loved ones had only one prayer and question in mind: “Could we not have him back?”

“Could the extraordinary events of last Friday be wiped out, could we awake from this nightmare?”

But he said they “must not let Red Óg’s last act define his whole life”.

A “superb athlete”, Murphy had “bundles of energy from an early age, which he channelled into honing his skills of Gaelic football, especially his accuracy of passing and point scoring”.

“Like no one else really, he enjoyed and rejoiced in life, looked forward confidently to years ahead and dreamed of things that might be,” said Fr Henry.

“Now Red Óg is asleep.”

Mourners were led by Murphy’s parents Geraldine and Redmond, his two brothers Oisín and Daithí­ and his girlfriend Rachel Jackson.

DCU chancellor Brid Horan and university chaplain Fr Paul Hampson were among the many who had travelled to south Sligo to pay their respects.

Burial was afterwards in nearby Bunnacrannagh Cemetery.

If you are affected by any issue in this article, helplines are open at:

Samaritans, (01) 116 123,
Aware, 1800 80 48 48,
Pieta House, 1800 247 247