Funeral of John O’Neill told he was a man with ‘big heart and an open mind’

Son tells mourners he has lost ‘a great father’ who had been ‘deeply rooted in north Clare’

Mr O’Neill’s son Graham said his father had been ‘looking forward to the new year with the old twinkle back in his eye’.

Mr O’Neill’s son Graham said his father had been ‘looking forward to the new year with the old twinkle back in his eye’.

 

An elderly man who was found dead at his home in Co Clare earlier this month has been remembered as “a legend of a man” who approached life with “a big heart and an open mind”.

John O’Neill (79) was found dead at his home on St Brendan’s Road in Lisdoonvarna in unexplained circumstances on January 7th. A 32-year-old man has been charged with his murder and is currently before the courts.

The funeral of Mr O’Neill took place at the Corpus Christi Church in Lisdoonvarna on Friday morning.

Mr O’Neill had run a B&B with his wife Christine who died from cancer last year and had two sons and five grandchildren.

Mr O’Neill’s son Graham told the congregation gathered that he had been “a great father” and an “active granddad”.

He said his father and mother had forged a partnership which lasted over 50 years and included “many adventures, highs and lows”.

“When Chris became ill two years ago, John took on the role of Chris’s carer until her sad passing in July, a task which he carried out with dedication and love. We are grateful that she is not here today to carry the shock and sadness we are all experiencing following John’s death this week,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said his father visited his grandchildren regularly and took an interest in each of their “varied personalities and interests”.

He said while he was “deeply rooted in north Clare”, he had many adventures and had travelled the world “spending time in many far flung places”.

Mr O’Neill said his father had represented his county in a minor Munster football final and remained a lifelong supporter of his local GAA club. He was also a keen cycler and an avid golfer.

“At 79 he was still golfing and showing up lads half his age in terms of fitness and skill,” his son said.

Mr O’Neill said his father had enjoyed Christmas, dividing time between his son’s homes and meeting up with friends for a “pint and a chat”.

“His zest for life had returned after a tough two years of nursing Chris and he was looking forward to the new year with the old twinkle back in his eye,” he said.

“We remember our John O’Neill as a legend of a man, who approached life with no cynicism, fear or judgment but with a big heart and an open mind.”

Mr O’Neill also thanked gardaí for how they dealt with the “shocking events of the past week” as well as the local community, neighbours and friends for their support.

Fr Richard Flanagan, who led the service, said Mr O’Neill was “a good and loyal friend” who had touched many of the people present.

Burial took place afterwards at the Holy Rosary Cemetery in Doolin.