Priest tells of his moving deathbed conversation with ex-GAA star Kevin Carey whose brave cancer fight was an inspiration
Young people formed a guard of honour at the funeral of inspirational former GAA player Kevin Carey, whose courageous brain tumour battle touched the hearts of people across Northern Ireland.
Father Tony Curran - who officiated at the popular Portglenone man's funeral at St Oliver Plunketts Church in Clady on Saturday - said the massive congregation of friends and family was a testament to the respect in which Kevin was held by all who knew him.
Mr Carey (35) fell ill on a trip to Portstewart in July 2015 with his wife Natasha when he suffered a number of seizures.
A brain scan identified glioblastoma, an aggressive terminal brain tumour. He was given just three months to live, but battled on bravely against the odds to try and beat the diagnosis.
A campaign to raise money for pioneering immunotherapy treatment raised more than £235,000 in just 13 days.
Treatment began in August and appeared to be going well, but a post on his fundraising page the weekend before last said the treatment had stopped working.
Just days later the heartbroken family posted the devastating news that their "beautiful gladiator has been set free".
Last night, Fr Curran spoke movingly about the civil engineer who had battled brain cancer for two years.
"Kevin was a quiet, unassuming sort of a man - and yet he made a massive impact on people he came into contact with," Fr Curran said. "He was very much a community guy, a family man, and very much in love with his wife .
"My last conversation with Kevin was shortly after he found out that his immunotherapy was no longer working, and that the tumour had taken hold and was aggressive.
"He knew at that stage that he was going to die. I was sitting with him, chatting, and I asked him if he was afraid to die.
"Kevin said, 'At this stage, no'."
Over the two years he had fought the cancer, said Fr Curran, Kevin had come to realise that this was likely to happen.
"He had come to the point on his deathbed where he could say he was no longer afraid to die," said Fr Curran.
"He said he was not afraid to die, because he had had a good life, and he was thankful for it.
"His great concern about dying, he said, was the pain he was leaving his wife and his family. And then he said that the greatest thing he had ever done in his life was to have met and married Natasha."
"Kevin Carey was a man who loved his community, and the massive attendance at his funeral and the outpouring of generosity when he needed to raise money for immunotherapy showed the respect and love his community had for him.
"He was a lovely man."