IT was a sad occasion. Tremendously sad. For here was a man who had given so much to his community and yet, as Fr Michael Murtagh said at the funeral Mass on Friday morning: “his death is inexplicable. The manor of his leaving us is so hard to comprehend”.
The people of Dunleer and from all over the county, and indeed the country, gathered at St Brigid’s parish church Dunleer to say their last goodbye to Johnny (Jack) Brennan, a real man of the community.
The words from the Book of Wisdom read were perhaps in the minds of everyone in the congregation: “Their going looked like a disaster. But they are in peace”.
Fr Murtagh spoke of another “shock and tragedy” to hit the community. “A nightmare so many would like to wake up from.”
He quoted the great Scottish Play: There lies no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.
“Nothing betrayed the construction of Jack’s mind in his last few days,” Fr Murtagh said. “His death was solitary. His life anything but solitary.
“The terrific irony is that he didn’t talk to anybody when it mattered. Jack would be the first to go out and put a programme in place in the community. The mystery is he remained so silent.
“His death, and the death or others in similar circumstances makes me wonder about our present national state.
“We seemed to have lost the art of appreciating the gift of our lives.
And Fr Murtagh spoke about the great fondness the people of Dunleer had for Jack Brennan who did so much especially for the young people.
He was instrumental in bringing about the Dunleer Playground project. He was even known as The Playground Man.
He was a valued member of the parish council and the Dunleer Development Board.
“Thank God for his life, his contributions,” Fr Murtagh said.
“We continue to pray for him.”
And a warm tribute was delivered by Jack’s cousin Denis.
“He was Johnny to many,” said Denis. Jack to some.
“He was a colleague, a parish worker, a community organiser, an insurance agent.
“He has given a lot back to Dunleer. Thanks for all the memories Johnny.
God bless you.
Representatives of Dunleer Parish Council and Dunleer Development Board formed a guard of honour for the cortège.
Tony Mallon chairman of the Dunleer Devleopment Board said Johnny was a great family man and a man who did so much for the young people in the community.
And he was instrumental in securing the handover of the old parochial house to the people of the town.
The house was handed over to the Dunleer Development Board by Louth County Council and received a donation from Mr Martin Naughton of Glen Dimplex.