Harry Byrne (13), who died following an incident at St Kieran’s College in Kilkenny city on Monday afternoon, was “a kind, gentle and warm spirit,” his funeral mass has heard.
He was remembered as a boy who loved all sports, school and precious time with his family. While 13 years of life was “no time at all,” his aunt and godmother, Michelle Byrne, said Harry “knew what it meant to make the most of the time we have”.
The first-year student was rushed to St Luke’s General Hospital on Monday afternoon after being hit by a sliotar in the head while playing hurling at lunchtime.
He died on Tuesday. He is survived by his parents Fergal and Annette, brothers and sister Jake, Aimee and Sam and grandparents Teresa Byrne, Martin and Mary (Nolan).
His funeral took place at Church of the Assumption in Gowran, Co Kilkenny on Friday afternoon. It was attended by his family and many of his friends, who wore their GAA kits to the mass.
More than 3,000 people watched the live stream of the mass online.
John Nolan, Harry’s uncle and godfather said Harry “loved nothing more than sitting down with his family to play boardgames”.
It was “so special to see Harry’s friends come together and share their stories of him over the past few days,” he said, adding that they had all sat with him for the day on Thursday, and “even popped a pack of sweets in next to him.”
Last summer was “one of the best ever for Harry and his friends”.
“It wasn’t uncommon to hear him at 9 in the evening to say he was off to the pitch to meet the lads,” Mr Nolan said.
Harry “absolutely loved going to school, having the craic and meeting his friends,” he said.
Emma, Harry’s aunt, explained the symbols of Harry’s life which were brought to the altar.The hurl symbolised Harry’s love of all sports, and a family picture represented the “many fun times with his family”.
A whoopie cushion was also placed at the altar, because “he loved nothing more than a well executed practical joke.”
A games controller symbolised the “strong bond Harry had with all his friends” and “the endless hours together online and on their bikes and at the pitch having the craic.”
Other objects brought to the altar included his books, and his bible, as well as a heart of gold.
Harry “loved his sport, and the sports clubs loved him”. If he was not at home, he could probably be found at the hurling pitch, his aunt Michelle Byrne said. But he also turned his talents to several other sports, like golf, soccer and rugby.
It was “a comfort” for the family to know that Harry would “finally meet his granddad Jim, who’ll be waiting for him, waiting to watch the latest young Ireland hurling match,” Ms Byrne said.
“We won’t think of this as a goodbye, but a ‘see you later’,” she said.
Harry’s godparents gave thanks to the community of Gowran for their support, on behalf of his parents, Fergal and Annette.
They thanked Harry’s school for providing “wonderful care” and