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In memory of Michael McKiverigan

Michael McKiverigan leaflet cropped

Celebrant Fr. Andrew McMahon

In memory of Michael McKiverigan

To view Michael's Funeral Mass, click on the link below.


Our Gospel story this afternoon takes us to this little place called Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem. It was the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. And as the story tells us, Lazarus's death had brought many other people to Bethany that day - many local people who had come to sympathise with Martha and Mary over their brother. Although this is a scene from long ago and far away, it is still a scene that we can relate to and understand. For in a time of death and loss, we still draw close to those who have been bereaved and we try to reach out to them in sympathy to support them in their loss. At this time, and over the earlier days of this week, this local community and people around it, and many from further afield too, have been doing what they can to reach out to the McKiverigan family in their time of great loss and sorrow. Despite the restrictions which continue to be upon us, everyone, I know, does their best to surround the bereaved and in turn, to surround this family in their time of sorrow. That is the case as we gather this afternoon for Michael's funeral here, and as we prepare over the days ahead for the funeral of Brian as well. To experience the death of them both within just a couple of days of each other has been a very hard blow indeed for this family and we are deeply sorry for them. As well as all who are present in the church this afternoon, we are conscious of those who join us by webcam from their homes and other places, as well as ourselves - the wider community of people who are with us in spirit and in prayer and attempting to surrounding the McKiverigan family with their care and prayer and support as we gather to commend today, Michael, to the Lord in faith and in prayer.The Gospel story goes on to tell us that, into this siutation of grief and loss at Bathany, as well as the local people and the people from Jerusalem city, that eventually Jesus came too, and he came into the midst of their sadness and sorrow and stood alongside Martha and Mary in the midst of it all. And although, perhaps, we may be in different circumstances here in Laurencetown, I would encourage you very much to trust and believe that Jesus is also with us and present to us in thiis gathering of His people. He comes to us particularly through His Word, which we hear in this part of the Mass and he will come to us again in the Sacrament of the Eucharist which we will later celebrate around the altar here. We can be sure the Lord, who wanted to be with those who mourned in the course of his earthly ministry in Gallilee and Judea, wants as much to be with the McKiverigan family and with this community and in this day of sadness and farewell. So I pray that we would experience something of that presence of the Lord, his nearness to us, as we take our leave of Michael this afternoon as we entrust him on the hands of God now that he has gone beyond our company and beyond our care. 

The illness which brought about Michael's death on Sunday had been relatively short in duration but very intense in its impact, leaving Michael very dependent upon medical and nursing care with much time spent in hospital since November past and eventually being cared for by his family at home throughout his final days. It seemed such a contrast in circumstances when one thought of Michael McKiverigan, as many of us will remember him from his days of health and strength, when he was such a strong figure; an active figure and an imposing figure. I first remember him as one of the big boys (as they were known) in Ballyvarley school when we were younger and a few classes behind him in primary school days.

But my clearer and more enduring memory of Michael was as a srong and skilful hurler for Ballyvarley from the mid 1970's onwards. I can still picture him in that role - he was a regular midfielder from underage level upwards. He played for a number of years in that role. Michael earned the reputation early on for being especailly effective at marking his opponent - not in a physcial sense - but you know what I mean in being a very good marker. He had a great name for marking people closely on the pitch. It became the practice in Ballyvarley that whoever was reckoned to be the most dangerous man or whoever was the greatest danger on the opposing side, Michael was put onto them. This would sometimes happen before a game, if they knew that, or if it emerged during a game who the danger was on the other side, Michael was then switched and put on them. His skills were undoubted and he was recognised beyond Ballyvarley club and by1976 Michael had earned a place on the Down Under 16 team of that year wich went on to reach the All Ireland final that year in Port Laoise. He continued to be well regarded at County level and he would end up being a right half-back on the Down Minor team which won an All Ireland in 1978 when they defeated Kerry in the final at Croke Park. I know Michael also played gaelic for Tullylish here in the early years - I'm not just as familiar with the life and fortunes of the Tullylish club but I've no doubt he would have been a very effective footballer and would have made a very significant contribution to Tullylish.

I'm told also that in his early years Michael was involved in amateur boxing and was a good boxer. I know that boxing was very much part of the life of Laurencetown and Gilford with a long tradition of amateur boxing here. One other association that may not be as widely known between Michael and Ballyvarley and the Aghaderg club was he was in a couple Scor na No'g Novelty Acts which were very successful in their time. He was a member of a Novelty act alongside Seamus McEvoy and Barbara Lennon in 1975 which was called The Famrer and the Income Tax Officer. The following year in 1976 Michael again and Seamus McEvoy had a Novelty Act named The Irish Politician and it went on to win the Down County title in the Junior Scór that year. I can't go into details about what they were about in this setting but they were good and they were funny and they were successful. It suited Michael because he could do humour well. He was a jolly nature, a happy nature and he always retained that pleasnat sociable side to his life all through the years. He was someone who had a good sense of humour and a good sense of fun as many of you will know well.

After his hurling and football days were over he still retained interest in sport of various kinds - in soccer - he remained a Manchester United fan throughout the years. He also followed motorbike and car racing closely - I'm told he was a great fan of Formula One and the Isle of Man TT races. He also kept up his athletic interests which he had, in many ways, inherited from his father Brian. He was a good runner -  a long distrance runner and he was very much committed to keeping active in the years after he retired from playing on the field and so on.

As his children grew up he encouraged them to be out with him running and jogging and keeping fit and active because he had a real enthusiasm for that. As well as encouraging his daughters and son to keep active ,andperhaps much more importantly, they will remember Michael as a father who was devoted and caring, someone who was generous with his time, ever willing to help and support them in any way that he could, and someone who always was ready to put the needs of others ahead of his own and I know that Noeleen and Juanite and Nicole and Michael junior will have many more personal memories, which I am sure they will be able to trasure and recall and share in times to come of the father they loved and respected and whom they will be greatly miss from their lives.

His elevenn young granchildren too, as they grew up in more recent years, came to know and love and cherish their grandfather and Michael was always very attached to them too. He had a great way with the children and kept close to them and in all that was happening in their young lives. 

Michael's very full and active life was particularly remarkable given that for many years of his life, his adult life, he had known the effects of Addisons disease with the drain upon his energy that there must have been. And yet, he kept going in spite of it all and put as much as he could into life on a day to day basis. We are deeply sorry therefore that the final illness which came into his life from aorund last October onwards was one that Michael was not able to successfully challenge or overcome. We give thanks at the same time for the love and care which was shown to Michael by family and friends throughout these months which no doubt supported him and sustained him in the midst of his illness. And so we give thanks too for all who supported the family in attending to Michael's needs both during his stays in hospital and during his time at home, where he passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon. Now that Michael has finally gone from our company and our care, we commend him to the Lord and to his greater and unending care. and with his sickness and suffering no more, we pray this day that the Lord in his great love and mercy would look kindly upon our brother Michael; would draw him to him and would lead him now along the path to life eternal. Amen.




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