A huge crowd gathered in Stranorlar to say goodbye to Ronan Roddy, who touched the lives of everyone he knew.
Ronan passed away on Wednesday in the Donegal Hospice at the age of 44, after a six month battle with illness.
A guard of honour lined the Stranorlar Main Street as the hearse made its way to the Church of Mary Immaculate in Stranorlar.
Father Kieran McAteer told of how as a community “we are all the poorer for Ronan Roddy’s passing, but we feel privileged that he has been with us for 44 years. Today is a day to thank God for difference.”
Ronan worked in Macs Deli for 26 years and did the basket collection every Sunday. He was an avid Finn Harps fan and was a steward with the club for many years.
On from that, he lived life to its fullest, getting involved in plays and he enjoyed going on holidays with his family, but always consulted the Finn Harps fixture list before planning anything.
Fr McAteer added: “Ronan touched the lives of everyone he met in this community and far beyond.
“He played such an important role in so many aspects of life, church life, sporting life and life in the workplace. He had such a presence everywhere he went and just about everybody knew him.
“People from all around the country got to know him, he was Harps to the core. We could read the Harps result on his face when he arrived in on a Sunday morning for mass.
“He packed so much into his 44 years. He had wonderful days at plays in the Balor, he loved to socialise with his family, and he just loved birthdays and holidays.
“For him there was nothing impossible and that was given by you (his family). You should have no regrets today but there’s a big void left in your lives.”
Gifts were brought to the altar and placed on his coffin, of which they summed up an important aspect of his life.
A photo of Ronan taken on his holidays abroad that he always looked forward to year on year, a painting he painted during lockdown was brought, his Macs Mace deli work shirt, where he worked for 26 years.
A photo of Ronan and his award winning production of the Irish Famine from his time at the Little Angels school, and the church collection basket that he helped give out every weekend at Mass also was brought forward.
A pair of signed Shay Given gloves he wore every Monday night playing indoor football, his Belfast Marathon relay medal that he was so proud of, his Man United scarf that he wore on his last trip to Old Trafford, his Finn Harps scarf signed by the players and a Barry McNamee Finn Harps shirt.
There was barely a dry eye in the church as the reflection from his late sister Aleens memorial card was read out, with ‘being free’ the key message of the reflection.
Timothy, Ronan’s brother, thanked everyone as he read out a powerful eulogy that showed how important Ronan was to the community.
“Our wee Ronan has passed away after his six month fight against illness,” he said.
“Ronan was diagnosed on the 4th of January with the rare condition of Amyloidosis. This diagnosis explained the symptoms that Ronan was displaying and tried to explain to us.
“Little did we realise how ill Ronan actually was. Ronan entered the Donegal Hospice on Friday 13th January and died five days later.
“The tributes from far and wide have touched our hearts. Even in his passing, as the younger generation would say, he’s trending with over a quarter million views from the Finn Harps post, he’ll be tickled pink at that.
“Over the last few days I’ve heard Ronan described in many ways, best summed up by the words, ‘you’re class’.
“His social life revolved around Finn Harps fixtures, the fixture card was always consulted before any weekends were planned. The display of support during his illness, his passing and today’s guard of honour is incredible.
“To everyone associated with Finn Harps, thank you. You took him under your wings and you allowed him to fly.”
“He worked in Macs Deli for 26 years and it gave him a level of confidence that he built on over the years. Not only did this work fulfil him but it has inspired many other parents of Down Syndrome children to look at Ronan and believe their own children have a future ahead of them
“There’s a story of a man with a Down Syndrome child and hearing of Ronan, travelled from Cavan to sit in Macs Deli and watch Ronan go about a days work and see how he integrated with society and how society embraced Ronan.”
At the end of the funeral mass, Ronan’s coffin was taken to Drumboe Cemetery for burial.
May he rest in peace.