Michael Snee remembered as ‘quintessential gentle person’ at his funeral in Sligo

It will be the ‘simple things’ that loved ones will miss about 58-year-old, ceremony hears

It will be the "simple things" that those who loved Michael Snee will miss about him, his funeral in Sligo heard on Monday.

Described during the ceremony as a “lovely, gentle, sensitive, caring, compassionate” man, the 58-year-old was found at his apartment in Sligo town last Tuesday after having died violently. His funeral took place at St Joseph’s church in Ballytivnan.

In an emotional eulogy, Michael’s nephew Aaron Spring said Michael had been “incredibly close” to all his family, particularly his father John (90).

“He loved his garden, he loved his fashion . . . Michael loved to cook and the day that he was taken from us he had cooked a beautiful meal for grandad and myself. This was something he had regularly done and always done so well.

“Michael was a ‘people person’ – loved a bit of craic and having a laugh, he was always able to tell a good story. He had a huge community of friends which have shared their shock and sadness with us at the vigils last week.

“For each of his family we are all going to miss Michael in our own special way and the way Michael showed he cared. For grandad John he is going to miss the gardening tips and the delicious home-cooked meals. For my mum Mary the support Michael gave her every day through her battle with cancer. For his sister Tina, sneaking into town for lunch.

“For myself, Michael was the only person who shortened my name . . . and called me ‘A’ . . . It’s the simple things like Michael coming into the house, ‘Here, A, Make us a coffee’ . . .

“We love you Mike. We’re all going to miss you.”

‘Enormous grief’

Welcoming mourners, chief celebrant Fr Noel Rooney extended particular “love and affection” to Michael’s father, “who in his own 90th year has to face this enormous grief and sadness”.

It was “less than 58 years ago” that John had carried his infant son Michael, with his late wife Phyll, in Sligo cathedral for Baptism, the priest said.

“This morning, tragically, he is wheeled into a church once again by his dad John, this time accompanied by his sisters and his nephew and nieces and extended family.

“There is much sadness in this church this afternoon. There is much grief . . . there is much devastation. But there is also much anger and there is nothing wrong with that anger.”

He said these emotions were brought to the funeral “in solidarity with the family of Aidan Moffitt” – who was also found killed violently in Sligo last week and whose funeral was taking place, in Co Roscommon, at the same time.

Fr Rooney said mourners must “not allow the horror of [Michael’s] death to define his beautiful life”.

“What a beautiful life Michael Snee did live, what a kind life. He was the quintessential gentle person.”

‘Beautiful skill’

Referring to Michael’s work with adults with intellectual disabilities, Fr Rooney said many had described “his beautiful, gentle skill in dealing with the most complex of situations and the most complex of people. This was Michael – the lovely, gentle, sensitive, caring, compassionate person that he was.”

As the wicker casket was carried from the church, the recessional music was a live performance of an Ed Sheeran song, Supermarket Flowers, which includes the lines: "Spread your wings as you go/ And when God takes you back we'll say Hallelujah/ You're home."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was represented at the ceremony by his aide de camp, Capt Neil Ledwith. Also among the mourners was Mayor of Sligo Arthur Gibbons.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times