Belfast Telegraph

‘Unbearable pain’ for families as Sean O'Brien (25) laid to rest

The sudden death of a young football fan in Co Fermanagh has devastated two families who now face a lifetime of unbearable pain, a priest has said. (stock photo)
The sudden death of a young football fan in Co Fermanagh has devastated two families who now face a lifetime of unbearable pain, a priest has said. (stock photo)
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

The sudden death of a young football fan in Co Fermanagh has devastated two families who now face a lifetime of unbearable pain, a priest has said.

Fr Jimmy McPhillips told mourners in Holy Cross Church in Lisnaskea that the passing of 25-year-old Sean O'Brien on a sunny summer day has left both his own family and his partner's struggling with many unanswered questions.

"What makes someone who seemed to have the perfect life - his partner, that great job and future promotion, that new home planned, and that holiday away booked, parties ahead and tickets bought for events - what makes someone bring all that to such an abrupt and violent end?"

The death of the passionate Liverpool supporter last Saturday has stunned the entire community and left his parents Edel and Rory and sister Emma heartbroken.

The clergyman prayed for loved ones of the man "who seemed to have it all" as they stumble through the emotional debris left in the wake of the tragedy, including his grandparents who "doted" on Sean.

But he conceded there is little he can say to ease their "unbearable" pain.

"The sad truth is, there are very few answers, at least very few adequate answers," he told them.

Fr McPhillips told the congregation that the best way to respond to the tragedy is to choose life, which may require having to learn how to enjoy the simple things in life, how to cry without shame, and how to accept our own imperfections.

"Make the time to be with someone if they ask," he said. "You don't know what they're really going through, and that few minutes of your time could make all the difference."

The priest - who revealed that many people tried to get Sean to open up - urged anyone who is struggling to ask for help.

"No problem is insurmountable," he said.

"No problem is beyond the reach of help."

Despite his struggle, Sean was fanatical about his favourite football club and enjoyed many visits to Anfield.

"He even went to the city to watch the matches on TV, just to be there," Fr McPhillips added.

"And all the jerseys he had, and more ordered and on the way.

"He liked rave music and had his own decks and always had a desire to be a DJ."

The dog lover, who enjoyed walks with his beloved Bertie, played GAA for Lisnaskea Emmetts in his youth and had a passion for running.

"And while he wasn't a man of many words, he was always warm by nature, welcoming, good-natured (and) loved looking after people," he said.

"He was also an amazing cook who could throw anything together."

Fr McPhillips concluded the Requiem Mass with the encouraging words of the anthem Sean had sung on so many occasions.

After the famous lyrics of You'll Never Walk Alone echoed through the church, Sean's coffin was taken to the adjoining cemetery where he was laid to rest.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call Lifeline free on 0808 808 8000 or visit their website for more information at lifelinehelpline.info

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