“Dad was a very quiet, shy man. He was a very funny and witty man. He lived a very simple way of life. He was the one person who was truly happy with his lot in life.”
These are the words of Christy (Christopher) Byrne’s daughter, Lil, who addressed the congregation attending the funeral of the 79 year-old Suncroft man on Sunday.
A large crowd of family, friends and neighbours gathered at St Brigid’s Church, the Curragh Camp to pay their respects to the pensioner who died in the ambulance fire at Naas hospital last Thursday.
His family thanked the staff at Naas hospital who cared for Christy and gave special mention to the two paramedics who tried to save him.
Parish priest Fr John McDonald said the community was in solidarity with the Byrne family on their tragic loss. He also thanked the paramedics for their bravery and also prayed for their full recovery.
Fr McDonald said Christy was a virtuous man who cared for his family, children and grandchildren. He said he was a good man, a proud Wicklow man, who was proud of his background, and believed nothing could compare with the scenery of Co Wicklow.
Hailing from Grangecon, Fr McDonald described how Christy began working with horses and later came to the Curragh where he took up employment at Con Collins’ yard.
“He had a way with horses, he could control them and handle them. He cared for mares and foals,” he said.
“He was watchful and caring about everything.”
Christy’s daughter Lil told of how her mum, Betty, passed away in 1992, leaving a young family behind.
She told of how they all got on with life, education and work. Then in the summer of 2014, Christy became ill and had life-saving surgery, which resulted in him not being able to speak again. She said this was a tough time but they grew as a family.
“Dad just got on with it. He was always positive about everything,” she said.
She told how her father had a passion for animals of all shapes and sizes and loved to leave the backdoor open so he could watch the birds and cats coming and going.
She said Christy’s dog, Holly, must be the best Occupational Therapist and Physio in the country as the pair headed out on their walks.
She thanked her brother Thomas on behalf of her family, for dedicating the last two years to become a full time carer to their dad.
“They really were the perfect team,” she said.
Christy, who lived at Ard Brid, is survived by his children Lil (Davis), Thomas, Fran, Christopher and Sarah, son-in-law Michael, daughter-in-law Brenda, Christopher’s partner Sarah and his grandchildren Laura, Paul, Dylan and Rachel, brothers and sisters, extended family and friends.
After funeral mass at 2pm at the Curragh, he was taken back to his beloved Wicklow where he was laid to rest at Dunlavin Cemetery alongside his wife Betty, formerly Betty Barrett of Friars Hill, Dunlavin.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Suncroft community rallied around the Byrne family.
Suncroft GFC chairman, Shane Kavanagh said the club offered its condolences to the family.
“He was a lovely man. He loved the horses and he loved the greyhounds as well and he used to keep a couple of dogs as well,” he said.
“He was a very quiet fella, a pure gentleman, a very decent genuine fella.”