I only met Dr Francis Dolan a couple of times so I didn’t really know him well. But that doesn’t stop me from being shocked and saddened by his sudden death, at the age of only 34, just over a week ago. C knew him better, and other friends of ours as well and were understandably upset so when the funeral arrangements became known I started to work out how we would be able to go.
The funeral was held on Saturday, in a town in Donegal called Killygordon, where Francis’ family live in a parish said to have been founded by St Patrick himself. I picked up a car on Friday afternoon and then picked up C & M from the airport that night as they had both flown in from Edinburgh. On Saturday morning we left Dublin about 7:30 and started the drive. We arrived, after passing through typical gorgeous Irish scenery and blustery showers and waiting for herds of cattle to walk past, at a lovely church some 3 hours later (photo not by me).
The church filled quickly and after a Catholic ceremony with no less than 7 priests, some being family friends, and a wonderful heartfelt speech from his Professor from Cambridge, we filed outside into the sunshine. As we waited to give our condolences to the family and to pass the grave we could see that there were about 300 people there.
Afterwards we went down to the local sports centre for tea. Francis’ parents sat at our table, as did his Professor who, with C&M talked about F’s life outside of Ireland. We spent some time with F’s partner who told us that the wake had seen some three thousand people pass through the house! Later, back at the house, there was more tea and photographs and more memories and tears.
We had to say our goodbyes and by 4 were back in the car for the return trip to Dublin, a brief stop in Malahide for dinner with Steve and his mate Chopper before dropping the boys back to the airport.
It was a tough day, although much tougher for others than it was for us. It was so sad and tragic that the day had to happen, but given that it did I’m so glad that we went.
Dr Francis Dolan was evidently a much loved, admired and respected person, he will be sorely missed by many and will always be loved. I trust that he now rests in peace, I wish his family and loved ones find peace soon as well.