A picturesque church on a hill overlooking Bandon, West Cork drew over 800 people today as the town gathered to lay college student Cameron Blair to rest following his murder ten days ago.
Mr Blair (20) from Tullymurrihy, Ballinascarthy, died in Cork University Hospital after he was stabbed in the neck at a house party in Bandon Road in Cork city on January 16.
The attendance was so large at the funeral service at St Peter’s in the town that mourners flowed out from the church on to the steep steps all the way down to the street.
Cameron's father Noel paid tribute to his beloved eldest son.
"Cameron - my darling son. When you were a small boy I used to call you my 'buddy'. You grew up to be a fine young man. I was so proud to be your father. You lived life to the full. You were a loyal friend, a protective brother and a beautiful boy. You were unique and nothing can replace you. Rest in peace Cameron."
Cameron’s mother Kathy read a slightly altered excerpt of WH Auden’s “Stop all the Clocks” inserting the name of her son in to the poem.
“Cameron you were my north, my south, my east and west, my working week and my Sunday rest. My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song” I thought our world would last forever : I was wrong.
"Sleep peacefully my sweet child.”
Cameron’s brother, Alan, wrote a poem about his big brother which he read out towards the end of the service.
“My dear brother. Where do I begin?
"Your actions were always kind, a generous hand and an active mind
"I adored you since I was small. The day you left us was the saddest day of all.
"A keeper of secrets. You were loyal to the end, I always thought of you as my best friend.
"I never thought I would see the day where you wouldn’t be there to show me the way.
"It wouldn’t be your wish for me that I would be forever sad, so I will try to remind myself of the happy times we had.
"Sleep tight Cam."
Meanwhile, Cameron was remembered for his quiet selfless actions of kindness. Mourners heard that he touched countless lives with his generosity.
Reverend Ann Skuse described Cameron as a beautiful soul.
"Cameron had within his soul a deep kindness and care for others; a generosity of spirit that shone so bright this week as so many people, both young and old, recalled small acts of loving kindness that he had shown to them; acts of kindness that were done quietly, without wishing to draw any attention to himself," she said.
Rev Skuse said Cameron’s violent death had shattered the heart of his family, friends and the wider community. However, she insisted that it was not a time for questioning how such violent deaths could occur but was instead a moment to give thanks and remember Cameron.
She recalled happier times when the Blair family went on trips to the United States, Dubai, South Africa, Legoland and China. The family recorded every trip by bringing home magnets for the fridge.
“Each magnet tells its own story. They pain a picture of a life filled with love. They speak of adventure and of making memories. They radiate a sense of fun. Of grabbing every moment and making the best of it.”
Music at the service was provided by Bandon Grammar School choir. The Ronan Keating song "When you Say Nothing at All" was included in the service of thanksgiving as Kathy Blair used to sing it to Cameron when he was a young child.
Rev Skuke led the service assisted by the Rector of Bandon Parish, the Reverend Denis MacCarthy.
The Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, was present to do the commendation at the end of the Service and final blessing. Other clergy present included Fr Dave McAuliffe, Chaplain of Cork Institute of Technology, where Cameron was a second year chemical engineering student.
At the close of the Service, Bishop Colton, said that the last time he stood on the step in the church beside Cameron was on the 19th of May 2013 when he lay his hand on his head at his Confirmation.
"Our prayer that day was that “Cameron would continue to be God’s forever … until he comes to God’s everlasting kingdom”. On that happy day, we did not remotely imagine that this devastating day would come cruelly far too soon in his young life.'
As Cameron was brought from his home in Ballinascarthy the cortege passed Bandon Rugby Club where club members formed a guard of honour.
The route then passed Bandon Grammar where a guard of honour formed by students on the roadside.
The guard of honour at the church was made up of students from both Bandon Grammar School and Hamilton High School, the two second-level schools where Cameron was a student.
Cameron was laid to rest in Kilbeg cemetery outside Bandon town. He is survived by his parents, brother Alan and his grandmother Phyllis Donnelly.
A seventeen year old appeared at a special sitting of Cork District Court on Friday night in connection with the murder of Mr Blair.
He was remanded in custody to Oberstown detention centre in connection with the murder. He will appear in Cork Children's Court in Washington Street in the city on January 31.