The funeral of a young man has taken place on what would have been his 23rd birthday, after he died following a fall into a blow hole from cliffs near Garrettstown beach in West Cork over the weekend.
The family of Conor King of Broadale, Douglas in Cork asked mourners to donate to West Cork Rapid Response and West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue in lieu of flowers.
At Mr King’s funeral mass in St Patrick's Church in Rochestown, Cork on Wednesday, his mother Maura told the congregation that her son lived up to his surname.
Conor succeeded in squashing 100 years in to 23 years
"Help us to be as King as you. Conor succeeded in squashing 100 years in to 23 years. Happy 23rd birthday our beautiful boy," she said.
Maura was joined at the altar for the tribute by her husband Eamonn and daughter Aine.
She said as a family they had found it impossible to conjure up the words to pay tribute to their son.
She thanked all those who paid socially distanced tributes to her son on the road to the church.
"The Gaeilscoil, Christians, Colaiste an Phiarsaigh, rugby, surfing, Sunday's Well Swimming club, Rochestown Park.
“We know all about Conor's childhood life up to the age of 17 but then he was growing into [a] man.
“So it was such a privilege for the staff of Rochestown Park to share their experience of him as a working man. Because I would never have known that.
“And for his friends to tell me all the beautiful stories they have sent me and all the beautiful photographs I will spend the next few years drinking in.
She said that her daughter Aine had "new brothers and new sisters" in Conor's friends.
She paid tribute to Conor's friend, Gary, who attempted to save him and to the emergency services for their rapid response.
"Courage — Gary Barrett and every single one of the boys on Saturday. Forever grateful we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” she said.
“Thank you also the West Cork Rapid Response, the West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue. Nobody ever wants to avail of these services. They are all volunteers. So grateful that they were there for my boy."
It is hard to describe the impact he had on every individual one of us
Mr King's friend Daragh said that the late student and part-time lifeguard was one of a kind.
"Constantly making us laugh. Although the majority of jokes were about him he took it on the chin and always had a comeback.
“It is hard to describe the impact he had on every individual one of us. Conor loved nothing more than being with his friends and we loved being with him. The mark he made was one of joy and laughter and he will be missed but the stories will last forever. Happy birthday Kinger. Rest easy."
Fr Sean O'Sullivan, who celebrated the mass, said that Mr King had a gift for friendship and had touched many lives.
Mr King died last Saturday evening at around 11.30pm. His body was recovered from the sea shortly afterwards following the efforts of emergency services.
Rescuers also came to the assistance of his friend Gary who had gone to the aid of Mr King. He was hospitalised for hypothermia and non-life threatening injuries. He has since been discharged.
Mr King, who was a third year biomedical engineering student at Munster Technological Union (MTU) in Cork, had been on a camping trip with friends when the tragedy took place.
He was a former pupil of Colaiste an Phiarsaigh and Christian Brothers College in Cork.
He worked part-time at the leisure centre in Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork city. In a statement, the hotel said Mr King was a popular figure amongst members and staff alike.
He will be sorely missed by all hotel staff members
"Conor was a lifeguard is doing him an injustice, because Conor as well as looking after the safety of patrons using the pool, treated any minor scrapes that would happen from time to time in a busy pool, helped to look after the Leisure Centre plant room, did health and safety chemical tests on the pool and last but by no means least, looked after his beloved fish tank.
“A local lad, Conor was the person that Leisure Centre Manager Lorraine Noonan entrusted to do the regular checks and balances that the pool needed when Covid-19 meant that in March 2020, we had to close the Hotel and Leisure Centre.
"A completely dependable guy, who came in up to three times a week, to make sure chemical levels, pumps and the heating of the pool was all regulated.
“He will be sorely missed by all hotel staff members but particularly the team he worked with in the Leisure Centre. Working in the centre since he was 18, staff members past and present are in shock with his untimely passing."
After the mass, a cremation service followed at the Island Crematorium in Co Cork.
Donations can be made to the emergency services at www.westcorkrapidresponse.ie or at https://www.ifundraise.ie/2252_west-cork-underwater-search-and-rescue.html.