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Funeral of journalist killed in Ukraine hears he 'brought hope to the darkest places of the world'

Family and friends of the cameraman addressed his funeral in Dublin today.

Pierre Zakrzewski's coffin being carried from Foxrock church in Dublin following his funeral mass today.
Pierre Zakrzewski's coffin being carried from Foxrock church in Dublin following his funeral mass today.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

Updated Mar 29th 2022, 12:40 PM

FAMILY AND FRIENDS of Pierre Zakrzewski paid tribute to the journalist, who was killed while covering the war in Ukraine, at his funeral service in Dublin today.

Pierre’s coffin arrived before the altar as the sound of the Parting Glass played on the bagpipes filled The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock.

The funeral was attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, the aide-de-camps of President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheál Martin and representatives from the embassies of the United States, Ukraine, Poland and France.

Pierre was killed alongside Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire in Horenka, outside of Kyiv, on 14 March.

The celebrant Fr Kieran Dunne paid tribute to Sasha, who was a 24-year-old Ukrainian journalist who worked as a consultant for Fox News.

A third journalist, Benjamin Hall, was wounded during the incident and is recovering in the United States.

Pierre was the second-eldest of six children. The family lived in Leopardstown, Co Dublin and he attended St Conleth’s College in Ballsbridge.

Pierre’s brother Stas recounted how his brother’s “restless legs and boundless energy” saw him born two months premature and then led him to travel all over the world.

Stas said Pierre refused to constrain himself to a traditional education and instead chose to teach himself through travel. This led to a career in journalism as he married his love for adventure with his interests in politics and photography.

He said Pierre has been highly inspirational to his friends and family. 

Pierre Zakrzewski funeral 007 Pierre's wife Michelle and Ukraine's Ambassador to Ireland Gerasko Larysa outside the funeral mass. Source: Sasko Lazarov

“He has taught us to think outside the boundaries and that nothing is impossible. We all love you Pierre and your spirit will live within us all. 

There’s a short Irish phrase ‘Ni bheidh a leitheid ar an saol seo aris’ which translates to ‘a person of the likes that you’ll probably never meet again.’

Childhood friend of Pierre, Ronan Hingerty said the journalist had an innate ability to get through checkpoints in the most hostile parts of the world.

“He believed that his biggest ace was his Irish passport. He’d often recite ‘go n-éirí an bóthar leat’, which would initially catch the guards by surprise, then he would hand over some cartons of cigarettes and be on his way.”

Ronan added that Pierre’s exceptional character cannot be measured in certificates, degrees, merits, medals or awards.  

“It’s not what he said, what he accomplished, either professionally or personally, that will stay with us. It’s how he made us feel.  

screenshot-20-3-390x285 Pierre Zakrzewski with correspondents Steve Harrigan, Yonat Frilling, and Ibrahim Hazboun in Ukraine Source: Fox News

“It’s the essence, the life force, of a man who brought hope and light to the darkest places of the world. Trying to make our world a better place by exposing bullies and tyrants. You were at our best when you were with him,” Ronan said. 

Colleague Tim Santhouse recounted work trips around the world where Pierre would take significant detours to help people out, including driving him to see his parents, who he hadn’t met in many months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He would help with my expenses. He would help fix my motorbike. He would help fix my mood,” he told the service.

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Tim also detailed the assistance Pierre gave people seeking to flee Afghanistan amidst the Taliban takeover last year.

coveney Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Pierre Zakrzewski's mother Marie-Ange at Pierre's funeral mass this morning. Source: Sasko Lazarov

“For several months after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, when Pierre wasn’t filming, sleeping or eating, he was on the phone. 

“He was constantly on the phone, usually speaking very loudly because of a scratchy connection to Kabul.  

“He was helping hundreds of terrified Afghans get out of the country and into safety. He never hurried them off the phone.

“Never rolled his eyes as he was asked to help the extended family of someone’s extended family to escape the Taliban,” he said.

“Pierre is one of the main reasons I joined Fox. I wanted to work with him. I wanted to learn from him. I wanted to know him. And I got my wish. And like all of us here I’m forever grateful for that,” Tim concluded. 

Pierre’s family asked that donations, if desired, are made to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Additional reporting from Lauren Boland

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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