The Church of the Holy Rosary in Castlebar was packed to capacity on Wednesday for a special Mass of remembrance for David Gavin, the 26-year-old Breaffy footballer who lost his life in a swimming accident in Canada on June 30. The memorial Mass saw prayers offered for David's family and friends and for finding his body so he can be laid to rest at home.
A number of symbols of David's life were brought to the altar of the church at the start of the Mass including jars containing water and sand from Kinbasket Lake in British Colombia where David lost his life. Other symbols including Breaffy, Mayo, NUIG and Vancouver GAA jerseys were brought to the altar along with a family photograph and a photograph of David and his friends and other items.
David's uncle Brian Gavin paid a glowing tribute to his nephew at the end of the Mass, telling the congregation that David had really taken to the lifestyle in Canada, with their way of life suiting him right down to the ground and how happy he was living there with his girlfriend of nine years, Ciara O'Malley. He said, "David loved Canada for many reasons. He found a job he loved and the Canadian way of live suited David, it was quite relaxed, just like him. We know that David was smiling right to the end, as just before the accident he said to the lads that he was in paradise. Today we should all smile that big David Gavin smile and be thankful that he was part of all of our lives. As the search for David continues, we hope that we will be able to bring him home to Mayo some day but, for now, we will keep David close to our hearts.”
Brian Gavin went on to pay tribute to all the people who have helped David's family both at home and in Canada. He told the congregation that David had lived for 9,610 days and have lived, laughed and loved each of those days and made them count. He added that although David's life was cut short, he accomplished so much and concluded by saying, “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long and, you, my friend, have burned so very, very bright. Until another day David, fly high and shine bright.”
Fr John McCormack, the chief celebrant of the memorial Mass, described the huge loss of the Gavin family as “every parent's worst nighmare." Looking back on the events of June 30, Fr McCormack told the congregation that David along with his teammates from ISSC Vancouver GAA club were driving to a match in Calgary, when they stopped off at Kinbasket Lake to go for a swim and cool off. “Innocently, some of them walked over to a bridge that overlooked this beautiful place. It was a height that David was comfortable with. He had often jumped from higher heights before and there was no sign of danger. David was the first to jump and something went wrong when he hit the water, he resurfaced and then disappeared. Something went wrong. His friends responded immediately but were unable to trace David. What went wrong? We don’t know and we will never know unless David is found. In the meantime, speculation won’t give us answers.”