26 March 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

It is with great regret that we report on the death of Kieran McAree, Stramore, Emyvale, which occurred on Wednesday, December 17th 2014. Kieran had been unwell for the previous two years and, with the assistance of his family, made a valiant effort to seek out a solution to his problem but unfortunately that was not to be and the entire north Monaghan community was shocked when the news spread of his disappearance in Enniskillen on that Wednesday morning.

Kieran, who would have been 24 on Monday February 16th, was eldest son of Martin and Geraldine McAree and was brother to Damien and Aisling. His Primary education was at St. Patrick’s, Corracrin, where he is still fondly remembered by his teachers. He then went to Secondary school at St. Macartan’s College, where he had many proud moments of achievement. Then on to Belfast Institute of Technology before taking up employment locally as a sales rep., first with EUCU Trading and later with Irish Fire Safety.

He was a quiet, pleasant and happy young man and participated in all normal activity but excelled at athletics. His mother, Geraldine, is a coach with Glaslough Harriers and from an early age Kieran went with her for training and very soon became a regular winner on the podium for a trophy. He loved athletics but was also involved with Emyvale GFC and was part of the Championship winning panel in 2013. He was an avid Liverpool supporter and travelled to Anfield last autumn and he had many memorabilia from the Liverpool club adorning his bedroom.

He was always very conscious of others and their well-being. This was demonstrated clearly last autumn, when he organised a huge Table Quiz for Aware followed by a very successful Duathlon in Glaslough, also for Aware. Kieran was open about his condition and talked about it. He wanted to give something back to those, who helped him, and that is why he organised the events for Aware. He had intended to participate in the Duathlon but, at the last minute, illness prevented him from doing so.

His caring for others was also very evident in his home, where we was always very co-operative and supportive and he idolised his siblings. He was a very tidy person and loved doing things about the house. Indeed on the day prior to his disappearance he helped with the household preparation for Christmas and he erected and decorated the Christmas tree. Indeed this was all summed up by his mother when she stated that in Kieran’s death they had – ‘not only lost a son but a good friend too’.

As soon as his disappearance became known, a huge search got under way and it was on the 64th day of that search that his body was recovered at the Round O bay. The search operation was under the direction of the PSNI who set a Search and Rescue programme in train involving a large number of volunteer organisations including the RNLI. These were then joined by huge numbers of individual volunteers, who came from Monaghan, Fermanagh and Cavan and some from much further afield. The communities of North Monaghan and Enniskillen and its surrounds searched side-by-side and voluntary groups – Alphadive, Navan; Dundalk Sub Aqua Club; Boyne Search and Rescue; Foyle Search and Rescue, Monaghan Sub Aqua Club; North West Search and Rescue; Mallow Search and Rescue; and individuals from other clubs – spent many hours in the search in very harsh conditions. Boat owners from a wide area joined in the search as did a big number of canoeists and kayakers. McBreen Environmental and Underwater Vision UK arrived with welcome technology and sniffer dogs came from Ireland, England and Scotland. Hundreds of walkers turned out each day to search the shorelines and the shallow water areas. Every day searching continued from first light to darkness and beyond.

The weather throughout the search was severe and unforgiving, making it tough for all but more especially for the divers, who risked their own lives to search the murky, dark and swift flowing currents of the River Erne. People in boats were exposed to the elements and experienced relentless coldness and walkers had very difficult conditions and terrain to negotiate. In the early days the PSNI provided a Mobile Catering Unit but then local man, Stephen Nixon, offered his Anchorage Coffee Shop to the organisers of the search and this offer was gladly accepted. A group of people then took over the running of this facility and were able to supply hot food to the people who came to search or support the family. After the Christmas period the numbers of searchers decreased as people went back to work but there were still big numbers attending each day. When the search first began on December 17th no one could have even imagined that it would last as long as it did nor could anyone have imagined how it would become such a major community issue, captivating the minds of so many in Monaghan, Fermanagh and many other counties and abroad. The people of Enniskillen, those involved in the voluntary search and rescue organisations, the PSNI and the local media had never witnessed a search so intense and protracted. In the last few days of the search the Anchorage was handed back to Stephen, who had contracted to have the building refurbished in time for the tourist season, which began on February 28th. Fermanagh Council stepped in and provided a Mobile Catering Unit and Bob Lyons had a sheltered container delivered for people to sit in while getting food. All the while people from Monaghan and Fermanagh were arriving with food and provisions.

However difficult it was for those involved in the search, the family had the added strain of having lost a loved one. Each morning they went to Enniskillen, full of hope that that would be the day their son would be recovered but then they had the long, lonesome journey home each night when nothing was found. Their only consolation was the fact that so many were giving them support by their actions and prayers. They were totally overwhelmed by the response, not only from the Monaghan community, but also from communities in many areas. In their sadness and tragedy, they were comforted by the thought that so many were supporting them in so many different ways.

Then on the 64th day of searching, Ash Wednesday, February 18th, Kieran’s body was recovered and this led to an immense release of mixed emotions and a sudden realisation that the mourning had just begun. The body was taken to Belfast for Post Mortem while the family returned to their home. On Thursday evening the body was released and was taken to his home. On the way through Emyvale the Main Street was lined with people paying their respects and at the Bridge a massive Guard of Honour was provided by members of Emyvale GFC and friends.

A constant stream of people visited the house until removal on Saturday morning for Requiem Mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Corracrin. Guards of honour were provided by Emyvale GFC, Glaslough Harriers and St. Louis Secondary School and Truagh GFC. The Chapel itself was overflowing and even with the General Purpose Room in Corracrin School packed to capacity there were still large crowds standing outside. The Mass was relayed to big screen in the School and streamed live on the Internet by Murphy Video Services. The chief celebrant was Fr. Hubert Martin, assisted by Fr. Brian Darcy, Fr. Macartan McQuaid, Fr. Raymond Donnelly, Fr. Sean Clerkin, and Fr. Peter Corrigan. Pastor Nigel Elliott Elim Pentacostal Church, and Very Rev. Kenneth Hall, Church of Ireland Dean of Clogher, were in attendance at the sanctuary. Seven members of the PSNI attended as did representatives of all the Search and Rescue organisation involved in the search. All the boatmen, canoeists, kayakers and canteen staff were present and the church was full of people who had walked and helped in many other ways. Members of the Enniskillen community who had become firm friends of family and all in the search were also present. Items, recalling aspects of Kieran’s life were brought to the sanctuary by friends. Readings and Prayers of the Faithful were pronounced by members of the family and friends of the deceased. Damien and Aisling carried the gifts to the altar. Sacred Hymns were sung by local choirs with organists, Paula McAree and Vanessa Treanor; psalmist was Anita McQuaid; Soloist and Communion Reflection was Paula McAree and instrumental music at the offertory was played by Vanessa, Aine and Ryan, family members.

In his homily, Fr. Martin stated that ‘Kieran had packed a lot into his short life’. He described the scene at the ROUND O when it became known that Kieran had been recovered – “People hugged; there were tears, tears of relief and sadness, mixed emotions… but lovely, warm moments that will be remembered forever,” and he added: “Rarely does a coffin at a funeral look so special as Kieran’s coffin today.” He said that: ‘Many new friendships between the people of Enniskillen and North Monaghan have been firmly forged. Neighbourliness has been demonstrated and experienced, the gospel has been preached by witness rather than by word’. He continued: “Community spirit at its best manifesting all that is good in human relationships, People were prepared to walk with each other and with the McAree family through their ordeal. There is something very special about that idea of people walking with each other.” He said that despite the ordeal and trauma of the last nine weeks, Kieran McAree’s family is full of praise for the support they have received from so many people and in so many ways. There was a poignant happening then as at the end of Mass, when Fr. Martin was thanking all who had assisted and participated in the 64 day long search, he singled out the PSNI for special mention because of the praise lavished on them by the family and a spontaneous Standing Ovation followed and was sustained for a prolonged period. At the end Kieran’s cousin, Áine, read a poem she had composed.

Burial took place in the adjoining cemetery with Fr. Martin officiating. On the way to the grave, the Jolly Joggers, boatmen, searchers, and the members of the PSNI formed a guard of honour. After the prayers Noel Kennedy sang the Liverpool anthem – ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam naofa.

Kieran’s Month Mind Mass will take place in St. Patrick’s Church, Corracrin, on Saturday, March 28th at 11.00am.


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