Northern Ireland

‘Lorcán lived a big, brave, beautiful life full of love’ - Clonduff GAC player laid to rest after death in Australia

Club members formed a guard of honour for the 26-year-old in his home village of Hilltown

Clonduff GAC dual player Lorcán Branagan (26) from Hilltown, Co Down, passed away in Sydney over the weekend.
The funeral of Clonduff GAC dual player Lorcán Branagan (26) from Hilltown, Co Down, took place on Monday after his death in Australia last month . PICTURE: CLONDUFF GAC

THE young Co Down sportsman Lorcán Branagan (26) who died in Australia last month has been laid to rest in his home village, with mourners told he lived “a big, brave, beautiful life full of love”.

A dual player for Clonduff GAC, the Hilltown man had travelled to Australia with friends before his death after a night out in Sydney last month.

He had been reported missing in the Sydney Harbour area before his body was recovered on March 25.

It was the second tragedy for the family after his brother Peárce, who also played for Clonduff, died in 2018 from cardiomyopathy.

Lorcán’s remains arrived home on Friday via the Clonduff grounds, with the club stating he received “a very moving tribute from all his teammates, club members and friends, young and old”.

Lorcán Branagan (pictured right) from Hilltown who died in Sydney over the weekend, pictured with his late brother Pearce who died in 2018 from a suspected heart attack. PICTURE: FACEBOOK
Lorcán Branagan (pictured right) from Hilltown who died in Sydney last month, pictured with his late brother Pearce who died in 2018 from a cardiomyopathy. PICTURE: FACEBOOK

The family had received assistance from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, with friends and family since raising over £74,000 for the charity.

Before the funeral mass on Monday in St John’s Church, Ballymaghery, club members formed a guard of honour in Hilltown.

GAA President Jarlath Burns was among those attending the service, where many wore their yellow club colours.

Symbols from his life placed at the front of the church included pictures with his family and girlfriend Shona, a gym book for his dedication to fitness and a cross to show the “love and affection” he was given in Australia.

There was a standing ovation towards the end of the service, with Lorcán’s sister Caitlín delivering a moving acappella rendition of the Kodaline song Brother, during which she named her two late siblings.

A priest told mourners his thoughts were with Lorcán’s parents Tony any Terri, siblings Padráig, Caitlín, girlfriend Shona, wider family and clubmates at home and Australia.

“Death always brings sadness, no matter what the age. But it’s especially sad when it’s the death of a young person,” he said.

“To our way of thinking, Lorcán naturally enough should have had so many more years to enjoy life.

“Parents never expect to be at the funeral of one of their family, and to be the second one of the family is such a heavy cross for you.”

With hurlers from the club standing at the front of the church, All-Ireland winning Down legend and Clonduff member Ross Carr also paid his respects.

“As we gather here today, still reeling from the tragic death of Lorcán, we are shocked, scared and angered at the unfairness that took him from us,” he said.

“What the past two weeks have shown me is that the longevity of a person’s life does not dictate their worth. To love and be loved, to find joy.

“To spread kindness, especially those taken so soon should be defined by how they lived, not by how they died.

“Lorcán lived a big, brave, beautiful life filled with love. That’s all of us can hope and strive for.”

To the heartbroken Branagan family and friends, he said: “You will not get over the loss of Lorcán but you will learn to live with it.”

Recalling Peárce’s death in 2018, he said Lorcán had lived another six “wonderful” years despite the intense grief he felt.

“I implore you to honour Lorcán by living your lives to the fullest, it’s what he would have wanted.”

Meanwhile, the club has also been supporting the family of player Charlie Brown (21) who suffered a serious head injury after an altercation in Rostrevor on March 31.

His condition was described on Friday as “critical but stable,” and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has since apologised after it emerged that it took paramedics an hour-and-a-half to arrive at the scene of the alleged assault.

Eamon (left centre) and Charlie Brown (right centre) with their their parents Aidan and Attracta after Ulster University's Sigerson Cup victory in February.