O'Connor Jnr remembered as 'one in a million'

Tuesday 12 January 2016 23.31
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Thousands gathered at Galway Cathedral for the funeral
Thousands gathered at Galway Cathedral for the funeral
Christy O'Connor Jnr died while on holiday in Tenerife last week
Christy O'Connor Jnr died while on holiday in Tenerife last week
Golfers Paul McGinley and Des Smyth attended the funeral
Golfers Paul McGinley and Des Smyth attended the funeral
President Michael D Higgins was among those in attendance
President Michael D Higgins was among those in attendance

Golfer Christy O'Connor Junior has been remembered as one in a million at his funeral.

Thousands of people attended the funeral at Galway Cathedral, including President Michael D Higgins.

Former Ryder Cup player and captain Paul McGinley said he would remember Christy most for the sense of fun and enjoyment he brought to people. 

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen said he last met the golfer before Christmas and said his death had come as an enormous shock. 

Mr O'Connor Jnr died while on holiday in Tenerife last week, aged 67.

The service was led by Fr Michael Kelly, a close family friend, who noted the flood of tributes when news broke of his death and the faith he retained following his son Darren's untimely death in a road crash in 1998 when he was just 17.

"He spoke openly and confidently of his conviction that he would meet Darren again - not quite so soon, I imagine," he said.

"He prayed to him and for him and was convinced that Darren came to his assistance more than once."

Fellow Irish golfer Eamonn Darcy and John Mulholland, former mayor of Galway and a close friend of O'Connor, gave personal reflections on his life ahead of the mass.

Among the gifts presented were the Ryder Cup Trophy marking O'Connor's triumph at The Belfry in 1989 when he hit one of the most famous shots in golfing folklore.

In his homily Fr Kelly recalled the glowing tributes over the last week and said it sounded like a cause for canonisation.

"Tributes to the golfer - one of our greatest; to the family man, who showed enormous pride in his family and never failed to acknowledge them when celebrating his achievements. Tributes to a friend - and everybody felt they were one of them," the priest said.

"There were tributes to the fundraiser, who had raised huge amounts for worthy charities down through the years - from missionaries in Africa to the Galway Hospice Foundation last July.

"The famous two iron alone was a powerful fundraising weapon. They were all tributes to 'a great human being', whom we had the privilege to be associated with in one way or another. He was a proud Galway man, an Irishman and a European. His leaving has left our world a poorer place. He was one in a million."

O'Connor Jnr is survived by his wife Ann, son Nigel and daughter Ann.

The golfer, who had been awarded the freedom of his native city and an honorary degree at NUI Galway, was buried in Rahoon cemetery.