Cork student Philip Leahy was laid to rest in his native Ballyhooly yesterday.
The 22-year-old was in the US on a J1 visa but died after getting into difficulties while swimming off the coast of Maryland. Philip was rushed to Atlantic General Hospital but passed away with his family at his bedside.
Philip captained Ballyhooly GAA to its first ever county junior B football title last year and a Ballyhooly jersey was among items placed on a memorial table in the church. Photographs of the win and of Philip’s trip to the US were also included, as was a diploma from CIT.
He had completed an honours Business Studies degree in CIT and was due to be conferred in October.
Huge crowds turned out for the mass at the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady.
In his homily, parish priest Father Patrick Scanlon said to the Leahy family: “All of us as a community grieve with you and want to stand beside you, today and for as long as it takes, as you grieve the loss of a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a friend.
“All of us recall a young man full of enthusiasm, who loved life and loved people, was outgoing, friendly and witty, and who was equally comfortable in the company of old people, children, or those of his own age group.” The small parish of Ballyhooly was shocked by the sudden death of the popular young man.
“An overwhelming sense of compassion for you, was felt by all of us here in Ballyhooly, and much further afield,” Fr Scanlon said. “It was that same sense of empathy that brought in excess of 300 parishioners to the local GAA pitch to pray and be together, on the Thursday night, and a similar number to a prayer service in the church last Tuesday night.”