Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Cork air tragedy: Rural community mourns a devoted son who never forgot his roots

The funeral of Pat Cullinan, 45, who died in a plane crash at Cork Airport which took place on Monday at St Patrick's Church in Cranagh, outside Plumbridge.
The funeral of Pat Cullinan, 45, who died in a plane crash at Cork Airport which took place on Monday at St Patrick's Church in Cranagh, outside Plumbridge.
Funeral of Cork aircrash victim Pat Cullinan near Plumbridge in County Tyrone.
Funeral of Cork aircrash victim Pat Cullinan near Plumbridge in County Tyrone.
Funeral of Cork aircrash victim Pat Cullinan near Plumbridge in County Tyrone.
Pat Cullinan's mother Rose and girlfriend Tina (centre of 3) follow his coffin.
Cork air crash disaster survivor Lawrence Wilson amongst the mourners at the funeral of Brendan McAleese who was one of six people who died in the accident last week at Cork airport.
Irish President Mary McAleese clutches the hand of her husband Martin in support as they leace the funeral mass for Cork air crash disaster victim Brendan McAleese at St MacNissius' Church near Antrim. Brendan was one of six people who died in the accident last week at Cork airport and a cousin of Martin McAleese.
There were emotional scenes outside the overcrowded St MacNissius chapel as funeral mass for Cork aircrash victim and father of two little girls, Brendan McAleese was taking place near Antrim.
Cortege follows the coffin to St MacNissius chapel for funeral mass for Cork aircrash victim and father of two little girls, Brendan McAleese near Antrim.
Emotional scenes outside the overcrowded St MacNissius chapel as funeral mass for Cork aircrash victim and father of two little girls, Brendan McAleese
Irish President Mary McAleese (centre) with husband Martin (left) and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (right) at the funeral of Brendan McAleese, 39, from Co Tyrone
Mourners follow the hearse containing the coffin of Brendan McAleese, 39, from Co Tyrone
SURVIVORS LAWRENCE WILSON AND DONAL WALSH LEAVING ST. MCNISSIUS CHURCH, TANNAGHMORE IN KELLS AS THEY PAID THEIR RESPECTS AT THE FUNERAL OF FELLOW MANX 2 PASSENGER BRENDAN MCALEESE
There were emotional scenes outside the overcrowded St MacNissius chapel at the funeral mass for Cork aircrash victim and father of two little girls, Brendan McAleese
Cortege follows the coffin to St MacNissius chapel for funeral mass for Cork aircrash victim and father of two little girls, Brendan McAleese near Antrim.
Little Ava and Erin, the tearful young daughters of Cork aircrash victim Brendan McAleese, are carried either side of their three-months pregnant mummy Anne Marie after his funeral mass as the cortege leaves St MacNissius' Church near Antrim.
The cortege arrives at St MacNissius chapel at the funeral mass for Cork aircrash victim and father of two little girls, Brendan McAleese near Antrim.
The wreckage of the Manx2 plane in which six people where killed
The mangled wreckage of the Manx2.com aircraft is removed
The mangled wreckage of the Manx2.com aircraft is removed
Examining the mangled wreckage of the Manx2.com aircraft
Manx2 chairman Noel Hayes speaks to the media at Cork Airport after Thursday's crash in which six people where killed
The wreckage of the Manx2 commuter plane is removed from the runway at Cork Airport, which has now reopened
The wreckage of the Manx2 plane in which six people where killed in a crash is removed from the runway at Cork Airport
The wreckage of the Manx2 plane in which six people died is removed from the runway at Cork Airport
Pat Cullinan, who was killed in the Cork air crash (KPMG/PA)

St Patrick's Church in Cranagh is a tiny chapel that serves a scattered, rural community. But yesterday hundreds of people from that community gathered for the funeral of Pat Cullinan (45), one of the six men who lost their lives in the plane crash at Cork Airport.

The pain and sorrow of Mr Cullinan’s mother Rose was evident on her face as she struggled to follow behind as her devoted son's coffin was carried into the chapel by his devastated brothers Aidan, Keiran and Seamus.

His sister Mary Rose, fiancée Tina and sisters-in-law all carried red roses, a poignant reminder of St Valentine's Day, as they entered the chapel which could barely contain all those who wanted to pay their respects.

Parish Priest Fr Joseph O'Connor led prayers for Mr Cullinan and the other five victims of the February 10 crash: Brendan McAleese, Michael Evans, Spanish pilot Jordi Sola Lopez, his co-pilot Andrew Cantle and businessman Richard Noble.

Fr O'Connor told the mourners of Mr Cullinan's devotion to his mother.

He paid tribute to “a devoted son who never forgot his roots” in a moving homily.

The priest said that while he did not know Mr Cullinan because he lived in Belfast, over the past days he had learned a lot about him from his mother.

He added: “Although Pat worked in Belfast he came home to his roots whenever he could, and she told me he called her every single day and sent her presents from wherever in the world he happened to be.

“He was also a good and loyal friend and distance was nothing to him if he thought someone needed him.

“He was also a very generous man and Tyrone GAA found in him a donor par excellence.”

Fr O'Connor also described Mr Cullinan’s journey from his humble rural roots in Cranagh to becoming a partner in one of Ireland's largest accountancy firms.

He said: “Pat went to the little primary school just behind this chapel and then went on to the high school in Plumbridge where his teachers still remember him as a friendly little boy, who even then showed signs of exceptional intelligence which eventually led him to Queen's University.

“Education meant everything to Pat and after a few years he qualified in accountancy and then he worked his way up the ladder of success.”

Mr Cullinan's fellow passengers who died with him were not forgotten yesterday as Fr O'Connor listed them one by one. They were also included in the Prayers of the Faithful which were led by the nieces and nephews of the dead man.

The love they had for their uncle was clear from the emotion in their voices as they prayed not only for the happy repose of his soul but also for the family, friends and work colleagues that Mr Cullinan has left behind.

As Mr Cullinan's brothers raised his coffin onto their shoulders one last time and led the congregation to the adjacent graveyard, the biting wind that had blown all morning had turned to snow, but none of the family seemed to notice.

After Fr O'Connor said the prayers at the graveside the roses, which had been carried into the chapel, were placed on Mr Cullinan's coffin in a poignant final gesture.

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