The Mayor of Bundoran, Cllr. Michael McMahon has attended the funeral of Rory Staunton, the 12-year-old who died suddenly in New York following a brief illness.
Rory is the son of Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform founder Ciaran Staunton and his wife Orlaith, of the Irish Voice newspaper. His uncles include Niall O’Dowd, a prominent Irish American journalist, and Fine Gael Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd.
More than 1,200 mourners paid their respects at St Mary’s Church in Queens. Huge numbers also attended the wake at his aunt Dervla’s home in Meath and the Requiem Mass in St Peter’s Church, Drogheda on Easter Monday. Among them were Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fein leader Gerry Adams, as well as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness.
Cllr. McMahon, who was also present, said afterwards: “On behalf of the people of Bundoran and, indeed of Donegal, I extend heartfelt sympathies to Niall, Orlaith, their daughter Kathleen and all the extended family on the tragic loss of Ryan.
“I have known the family for many years. Both Ciaran and Orlaith, as well as Rory’s uncle Niall, would be very well known to thousands of Donegal emigrants for their trojan work to help the undocumented Irish in America. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this terrible time.”
“We will all miss him,” junior minister Fergus O’Dowd said this week. “He was wonderful and too young to die.”
Writing in his column on Irish Central.com, Niall O’Dowd shared his anguish at the loss of his beloved nephew.
“On Sunday night [April 1] in a New York hospital my beautiful 12-year-old nephew Rory Staunton passed from this earth.
“Rory wasn’t just my nephew, he was the son I never had, the precious possession of my sister Orlaith and her husband Ciaran Staunton along with their daughter Kathleen.’
“‘I revelled in this big laughing Irishman, with the ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy’ obsession, the absurd sense of humour and the serious political side of him who studied American politics with the intensity of a professional.
“JFK was his hero he told me, because of his idealism. Rory too wanted to make a difference, to help the less well off. For one so young he already had a highly developed social conscience.
“He had already been to the White House and had met President Obama and Michelle on St Patrick’s Day in 2011. Not surprisingly, given his parents and their keen interest in all things political, Rory was fast becoming a political expert.
“Then on Sunday we lost him. Four days earlier he had received an elbow scrape after falling while playing basketball, which had somehow allowed a toxic bacteria into his system. Two days later he was hospitalized, fighting for his life, a battle he ultimately lost.
“There is an air of unreality even as I write this. My beautiful red-headed, five-foot nine-inch tall nephew has departed, leaving an utterly broken family and circle of friends that stretches from New York to Ireland to many other points behind.
“It was the worst weekend of my life as I watched the beloved boy battle vainly against the host of toxins that were attacking him.
“Despite the best efforts of outstanding doctors and nurses in the Intensive Care Unit , the darling boy did not survive.
“He is gone now into the wild blue yonder where he used to travel as a pilot in the making.
“Soar high Rory, and keep watch on us down below. We love you and miss you so much. Some day with a blue sky above and a fair wind behind, and our hearts full, our dreams will come true and we will meet our beautiful boy again.
“Until then, slan go foill a chuisle mo chroi.”