‘I wish it were a bad dream,’ father of drowned teenager tells funeral

Hundreds attend mass for Jack Kenneally, who died while swimming in a quarry last Thursday

Mourners carry the coffin draped with a Munster flag as Ennis Rugby Club members provide a guard of honour at the funeral of Jack Kenneally at Ennis Cathedral on Sunday morning.

Mourners carry the coffin draped with a Munster flag as Ennis Rugby Club members provide a guard of honour at the funeral of Jack Kenneally at Ennis Cathedral on Sunday morning.


Gordon Deegan

The grieving father of 15 year old Ennis schoolboy Jack Kenneally told mourners his heart fills with sorrow knowing that his friend Shay Moloney lost his life trying to save his son’s life.

At Jack’s packed funeral mass at the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ennis, Seán Kenneally said that he will be forever grateful to Shay for his attempts to save Jack from drowning last Thursday afternoon.

The two “brothers-in arms” died in the double drowning tragedy in a disused quarry at Knockanean outside Ennis.

Fr Jerry Carey said Jack and Shay are now “united forever” while chief celebrant Fr Tom Hogan told mourners “an unbelievable sadness has affected all of us - two young lads so quickly their life was no more”.

Mr Kenneally said that he can’t forget the bravery of the boys’ friend Cillian, who jumped into the lake in a desperate attempt to save his friends.

Jack was the “baby”of the Kenneally family and according to Fr Hogan had a special relationship with his three older sisters, Danielle, Katie and Aisling who doted on him.

Comforted by his three girls on the altar as he paid an emotional tribute, Mr Kenneally said: “There is now an empty seat at our table, an empty room in our house, but there will never be an empty space in our hearts.”

He said to mourners: “I wish it were a bad dream - clearly it is not. Who would have ever believed that something like this would have happened our family. The sense of shock and disbelief is palpable in the town in the last few days.”

Poignantly, the majority of mourners in the large crowd were teenagers with many wearing the red and black of Ennis RFC, while students from Jack’s Ennis Community College wore school uniform.

Jack and Shay were stars of the u-15 Ennis rugby team and there were large numbers of players from the rival Young Munster u-15 team in attendance.

Outside after the mass, teenagers comforted each other as Jack’s coffin, draped in the Ennis RFC colours, was carried to the hearse.

Earlier at the funeral mass, Mr Kenneally said that Jack was “an outstanding person and outstanding athlete and a good friend to many.”

After receiving a standing ovation, Mr Kenneally turned around and was embraced by his three daughters.

In a tribute to Jack at the start of the service, his u15 rugby coach at Ennis RFC , Pádraig Brennan said he was proud to have coached Jack and Shay.

Mr Brennan said that he would drive Jack, Shay and David Benteke - “the three Holy Family School lads” to matches with three sitting together in the back.

“Before we would get to the match, we would have to put on AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ for them and away we went.”

He said: “Jack had strength, speed and valour - everything you wanted in a rugby player. He could play anywhere, that is the kind of type of young fella he was.”

Fr Hogan said that Jack “was born into a family where love is in the air. Love never dies - love is like a seal in our hearts that endures. Jack filled up your world and filled up ye’re hearts - he was a most precious gift”.

Fr Hogan said that he was gobsmacked by the outpouring of solidarity shown by Jack’s teenage friends in the Church on Saturday night as they kissed the photo of Jack and touched his coffin as they filed past.

Addressing Jack’s sisters, Fr Hogan said: “Please God when ye’re children come girls that ye will tell them about Jack’s heart - that he loved ye and ye in turn loved him; that ye spoiled him and ye had a special relationship with him.”

Jack was laid to rest at Drumcliffe cemetery outside Ennis. Many of the young mourners will be attending the removal of Shay Moloney on Sunday evening with Shay’s funeral mass due to take place at the same church on Monday morning.