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'I am proud to call him my son': Funeral held for teen who died after falling ill at music festival

Large crowds gathered in Clonmel today for Jack Downey’s funeral mass.

Jack Downey died last Monday
Jack Downey died last Monday
Image: Clonmel Óg Hurling and Football Club via Facebook

A TEENAGER WHO died after he took a substance at the Indiependence music festival in Mitchelstown, Co Cork had “a cheeky smile” with his sunny disposition enriching the lives of all those who knew him, his funeral mass has heard.

Jack Downey (19) of Ard Caoin in Clonmel passed away last Monday having been rushed to Cork University Hospital three days earlier after he fell ill.

Large crowds gathered at his requiem mass in Clonmel, Co Tipperary today. Thousands attended his removal last night where Jack lay in repose at Clonmel Óg Hurling & Football Club.

Chief celebrant at the mass, Fr Michael Hegarty, said that such was the outpouring of support for the bereaved parents Johnny and Elaine that the removal to the church which was supposed to occur at 8pm instead took place two hours later.

‘A fabulous boy’

Johnny Downey, father of the late Jack, said he wasn’t one for “fancy words”. He recalled the birth of his only child telling mourners that Jack was 11lbs when he was born and that he was “a big man even then.”

Downey urged Jack’s friends and loved ones to watch out for each other.

“There is no blame. He will be missed – his friends are now to look after each other and not forget.”

“I used to sit back and just admire him – he was a man with a presence. A cheeky little smile.

He was a fabulous boy – and I am proud to call him my son.

Elaine Downey spoke of her fond memories of her son who was a goalie with Clonmel Óg.

He was an active member of the club training juveniles in his spare time. The offertory gifts included hurley tape which Jack used to repair his hurleys.

Elaine recalled the full of life teenager who would take over the kitchen table repairing his hurleys. Also among the offertory gifts was a hair product.

Mrs Downey made the congregation laugh when she spoke of how they got a discount at the barbers as Jack had to get his hair cut every ten days.

She wept as she described Jack as “the star” of his entire family.

“Jack William Downey – you were the love of my life,” she said.

“From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone here today, especially all the young people, for doing so much to help our family.”

Vibrant young man

Meanwhile, Fr Michael Hegarty said that “now was not the time for analysing or for offering magic solutions.”

“Now is the time for prayer and for supporting the (Downey) family and all Jack’s neighbours and friends.”

He said that Jack was a vibrant enthusiastic young man who loved life.

Jack is survived by his heartbroken parents Elaine and Johnny, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, relatives and friends and his Clonmel Óg family. Burial followed the mass at St Patrick’s cemetery.

Mourners were asked to donate to the ICU at Cork University Hospital (CUH) in lieu of flowers.

‘Say something’

Jack began to feel unwell at the festival on Friday afternoon at around 4.30pm. He went to the medical tent onsite and was transferred to CUH where he died three days later.

Gardaí are awaiting toxicology results on samples taken by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster. This process could take several weeks.

Jack had completed first year in Cork Institute of Technology and was due back to college next month. Counselling services are available to impacted students.

Clonmel Curate, Fr Michael Toomey, posted a message on the Clonmel Óg Facebook page to assist parents whose teenagers are struggling with the loss of Jack.

“Say something. Don’t let the fear of not knowing what to say keep you from saying anything at all. When reaching out to your teenager, steer clear of giving advice. Your teenager will have a unique way of coping that may be very different from how you mourn.

Your inclination may be to rush the process to help your teenager feel better, but life doesn’t work that way. Your teenager knows you can’t change things, but your love and support will go a long way toward helping your child heal. 

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About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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