Mourners gather for Mansion House funeral of Luas-death cyclist

Cormac Ó Braonáin ‘patchwork quilt of a person with a thousand passions’, says sister

The Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House has played host to many of the seminal moments in Irish history, most notably as the site of the first Dáil which occurred almost 101 years ago.

It rarely hosts funerals and certainly few on the scale of that for Labour Youth chairman Cormac Ó Braonáin who died earlier this week after being hit by a Luas tram while cycling a bicycle. He was just 19.

By the time the hearse containing the simple wicker coffin appeared outside the gates of the Mansion House at the appointed hour of 12pm, hundreds had gathered in Dawson Street to pay their respect.

They were not allowed admittance because the Round Room and its balconies were already full.

Many stayed outside in the cold for the hour-long humanist ceremony and filed past the coffin after the service ended.

Inside the coffin was lit under a single spotlight and above it was a large photograph of a smiling Mr Ó Braonáin.

Speakers paid tribute to a young man who was many things in his short, but event-filled life. He had been a Labour activist, socialist and musician of some note.

“He was a patchwork quilt of a person knitted together by a thousand passions,” said his sister Muireann.

“Cormac lived as he played music as if there was an entire orchestra in his head. Half of you said he was an old man by the age of three; the other half of you said he acted like a three-year-old at the age of 19. Cormac felt he could learn something from everybody. He was unapologetically himself.”

Cormac's father Lú read from the final paragraphs of James Joyce's short story The Dead. Cormac was a man who was, like Joyce, a proud Dubliner, but whose heart was in the west of Ireland, said Mr Ó Braonáin said.

Cormac’s mother Eva read a WB Yeats poem, He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven.

The service was presided over by humanist celebrant Siobhán Walls.

“There are simply no words to address the tragedy of losing a beautiful, bright, energetic, talented and all-round great craic young man,” she said.

Cormac was a talented pianist and a lover of traditional Irish music. His cousin Fiachna Ó Braonáin, the well-known broadcaster and musician, dueted along with his fellow Hothouse Flower Liam Ó Maonlaí.

Many of his fellow Labour supporters wore political badges to the event in honour of Cormac who collected them as a hobby.

Chloe Manahan, a former chairwoman of Labour Youth, described him as "funny, charismatic and so much smarter than all the rest of us".

He believed passionately in the power of politics to create equality in Irish society, she added.

Among those present at the funeral were President Michael D Higgins, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin and former leader Joan Burton.

Scouting Ireland was represented by the Dublin Dartry scout group where he had been a leader. They formed a guard of honour as the coffin entered the Round Room along with students from his old secondary school, Coláiste Eoin.

His football club Beechwood FC was also represented.