Poetry, music, sadness, and stories — funeral for golfing great mirrored his life

Galway bade farewell to its favourite golfing son Christy O’Connor jnr this week when thousands of mourners paid their last respects to this iconic sporting hero.

The Irish golfing community joined forces with his family and friends at Galway Cathedral on Tuesday to celebrate the life of this popular and charismatic Galwayman who died on holiday in Tenerife last week aged 67.

Christy Jnr became a household name with his two-iron shot on the 18th to help Europe to a famous Ryder Cup win, and significantly the Ryder Cup Trophy was among the gifts presented at his funeral Mass led by Fr Michael Kelly.

President Michael D Higgins was among the huge number of dignitaries, politicians and sporting figures who joined the O’Connor family, led by Christy’s wife Ann, daughter Ann, and surviving son Nigel.

Others included former taoiseach Brian Cowen, current Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony, golfers Paul McGinley, Sam Torrance, Shane Lowry, John O’Leary, Paul Lawrie, and Des Smyth, rugby player Keith Wood, and businessman Denis O’Brien. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by Comdt Kieran Carey.

In addition to readings from the Bible, there was John’s Betjeman’s poem, Seaside Golf which reminded the congregation of that famous shot at The Belfry.

“How straight it flew, how long it flew,

It cleared the rutty track,

And soaring, disappeared from view,

Beyond the bunker’s back,

A glorious, sailing, bounding drive,

That made me glad I was alive.”

Fellow golfer Eamonn Darcy and close friend John Mulholland, gave personal reflections on his life. Fr Kelly described O’Connor as “one in a million” who was a proud Galwayman, Irishman, and a European, who had raised huge amounts for charities throughout his life.

His leaving, he said, had left the world a poorer place, but Christy had faith that he would be reunited with his son Darren who had died in a car accident.

“He spoke openly and confidently of his conviction that he would meet Darren again – not quite so soon, I imagine,” he said.

“He prayed to him and for him and was convinced Darren came to his assistance more than once.”

Mr O’Connor, who was buried in Rahoon cemetery, is survived by his wife Ann, son Nigel and daughter Ann.

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