The heart-wrenching funeral of brave Rocco McGinley heard that although only 15 years old when he passed from this life, he fitted a lifetime of love and laughter into so few years.
The Buncrana lad passed away on Tuesday last after a heroic year sixteen month battle with a cancerous tumour.
His battle to beat the disease captured the imagination of the public who arrived in their hundreds at St Mary’s Oratory today to say a final farewell to Rocco.
Thousands of people who became familiar with Rocco’s plight as a huge fundraising campaign to send Rocco to Texas for specialist cancer treatment went viral attended the funeral mass online.
A huge picture of a smiling and handsome Rocco looked down from the altar on his white coffin.
In the front seats of the church sat members of the McGinley and Hegarty families including Rocco’s heartbroken parents Yvonne Hegarty from Rathmullan and Wade Mc Ginley from Buncrana, and his brothers and sisters Warren, Jordan, Dean, Cooper, Winter Lily, Arya and Bodhi, as well as grandparents Carl and Anna McGinley and Mary Hegarty and remembering the late Desmond Hegarty.
Among the mourners were members of Rocca’s school, Scoil Mhuire as well as members of Óglaigh na hÉireann as well as many of his close friends.
Fr Francis Bradley, parish priest of Buncrana, recalled the life and times of Rocco in a beautiful, funny and touching eulogy during which he had mourners in both tears of laughter and sadness.
The Buncrana teenager was remembered as a fun-loving, music-mad, fashion-conscious, quietly-religious, Manchester Utd-supporting lad amongst many other things.
But, apart perhaps from needles, Rocco was not afraid of anything, Fr Bradley said.
“Rocco McGinley, the boy in terms of age whom we gather today, the man in terms of faith whom we accompany with out prayers on his journey back to the house of the father, was someone in whom fear never appeared to have found a home – well maybe with the exception of needles and injections but even this he conquered with calm determination.”
Although he may haver eventually succumbed to the tumour which he developed, Fr Bradley added that it did not “beat him” as his mother Yvonne said “it did not change him.”
“It may have taken him from us in death but it has not destroyed him in life. He remains and icon of hope and determination so that we never allow death to have the last word. That belongs to God and life,” he said.
He added “We must remember how Rocco lived and my God did he live.”
Mourners fought back tears as they heard how from day one Rocco was a charmed and charming boy with every photo of him showing a smiling child with “eyes full of devilment and a face full of fun.”
This was the perfect resemblance of both his father and his mother which came from “the magical blend of McGinley and Hegarty.”
Fr Bradley then went through each of Rocco’s brothers and sisters and outlined what Rocco meant to each one of them.
And to his friends he was “The centre of gravity, the one to whom they all gathered, the one who has always brought out the best in them. For these past few months and especially these past few days they have conquered their own fears, never leaving him or his family alone for one moment and even saying their prayers out loud for him and them as an act of solidarity and hope. They really are some bunch.”
Rocco was also a joker and would often call his Granny McGinley, whose phone number was similar to that of the local Red Door Restaurant in Fahan, and he would try to book a table for a large number of people.
When he took his father’s jeep without permission to go to the shop, he would simply tell his father Wade that he would blame his tumour for not realising he was not allowed to drive!
He was born for the stage, had expensive taste in Tom Ford aftershave and clothing and always had his music beatbox on the go.
“He also had great rhythm even dancing with his treatment pump as a partner or around his opponent ducking and diving in the boxing ring.”
Money burned a hole in his pocket and if he got hold of his father’s credit card he loved nothing more than spending on others.
“He would give you his last dime and would be disappointed he could not give you more. He was the kindest soul you could meet,” added Mr Bradley.
Mourners were also told how his family were so moved by the many people who had supported Rocca and who had dug deep in their pockets for Rocco and his treatment.
“They are now digging deep in their hearts as they support Rocco and his family at this time of need. These people and so many other anonymous donors are the focus of our prayers and the target of our thanks this day,” added Fr Bradley.
Ending his lengthy eulogy to Rocco, Fr Bradley said faith had taken root in Rocco’s soul and that’s what should give mourners consolation.
“IN the end it is perfect love which drives out fear and Rocco had that in spades. He showered it on his family and his friends and it surrounded him in abundance right until the end.
“There was so many in his room around him that there was even space for fear, only love.
“And as was clear in those moment towards the end of his life here and towards the beginning of his new life to come, when his body moaned it was the touch of his father’s hand and the hug and kiss from his mother which were more powerful than the drugs he was being given.
“It is into the arms of perfect love, of God’s loving embrace that we commend him now. May Rocco rest in peace.”
A poem written by a close family member to Rocco was then read.
Following the funeral mass, his remains were brought to Cockhill Cemetery for burial.
May he rest in peace.