Church ‘filled with broken hearts’ at funeral for father of four Caolán Doyle

‘Remember this beautiful, very young, talented fabulous life’ said the priest at the funeral for Caolán Michael Doyle who died suddenly last Friday.

Church Steeple and Cross
Church Steeple and Cross

Caolán, who lived with his partner Ashleigh and three boys Keilam, Eoghán and Ruadhán as well as their little baby girl Lucie, was a devoted family man.

His funeral, at St Peter’s Church in Lurgan today (Monday) was as packed as social distancing allowed, mostly with young people still in shock at his sudden death.

Fr Colm Wright described the gathering for Caolan’s funeral as a ‘sad, sad, tragic, tragic occasion’.

He spoke of his own struggles with depression after a brain tumour and urged all those who felt difficulties with their mental health to talk to someone and ask for help.

He said to Caolan’s family. “Our hearts go out to them all.”

To his partner Ashleigh, he said: “Welcome and I know Ashleigh they are very cold words in the midst of this tragedy. You are welcome here today, and I welcome your children. We have Keilam and Eoghán here today. We will say a wee prayer for Ruadhán and Lucie who are at home.”

He welcomed his mother Emma, his grandmother Monica and all the Flevelle, Gilmore and Doyle families as well as his friends and workmates.

Fr Wright said: “We ask everyone to prayer for Caolán’s daddy Declan, his grandmother Aoife and his grandfathers Brendan and Patrick, his uncle Colm as well as Stevie and for everyone who have gone before him.”

On the Santuary there were a number of items representing Caolán’s life including the Doyle family crest, his Mercedes-Benz hat that he loved so very much, his Celtic top. the team he supported and five beautiful photographs, one of Caolán and his father Declan when Caolán was only a child, jet-skiing together at Oxford Island.

“That’s how I remember Declan, the first time I was here. He was a server here (in St Peter’s Church).”

There were also photos of Caolán with his mother Emma and brother Michael, also one of him with his four children, just after Lucie was born, also a photo of Caolán and his granny Mo at Ruadhan’s christening and one of all the family together.”

During his homily Fr Wright said: “We are only too aware that grief respects no one and it knows no boundaries whatsoever. We are here for all those sitting in front of me whose hearts ache and whose eyes burn in their head.”

Fr Wright spoke of the Gospel and said: “You gather here today to say to God how angry you are and just like those disciples you too feel robbed betrayed and so very, very sad.”

He added: “All of us hit the wall at some time in our lives. There are times when it will all hit the fan. If it hasn’t happened, it will. Life does not go in a way where everything is easy. If it has been plain sailing and you haven’t known incredible pain, believe me, you will because that is what being human and being normal is all about.

“There are times when we think or will think that our heads and our hearts are literally going to burst. That is nothing to be ashamed about admitting when we feel that way.

“We don’t have to be old to experience mental health issues. So often in the past, mental health problems were for old people. They are not, they are for every type of person. Every day in life mental health issues affect children, young people, middle aged people and senior citizens.

“We all experience times when we feel that we are cracking up. When we think we are the only ones to experience this pain and there are times when, for some reason, we feel we are on our own.

“We are not on our own, we are never on our own. There is always someone out there who has been there before us always.”

Fr Wright spoke of how many famous people had come forward on social media to share their own struggles with depression and mental health issues.

He said it was ‘very healthy’ for us to cry. “Big boys do cry and old men cry too.”

He said when we are in the company of anyone who is crying, we should put our arms around them and say ‘let that out’.

Fr Wright recalled having a teacher to told his class about his struggle with alcoholism and how it enabled him to face his own problems.

“Ashleigh was a great, great partner to Caolán. They were beautiful together with four beautiful children. They were so happy together and they were a lovely wee family. There is no doubt about that. All living together, this wee family in their beautiful home. They did adore one another. Caolán was a great father and a great son, a great brother and as many of us here can testify, and I saw so many at his wake, he was a great friend.

“There are so many broken hearts here today. For Caolán’s family all their hopes, dreams, the futures they had planned - they are gone, very, very sadly. They have been taken from them.

“Ashleigh and Emma and Michael, their future and hopes and dreams have been cruelly, cruelly taken from them and, on behalf of everyone can I say, how sorry we all are.

“If Caolán had just got over that hurdle that he was experiencing at that exact time, his family and friends would have done anything for him. I don’t think when anyone dies, they think of, because they are in so much pain, of the hurt and desolation that they are going to leave behind for their family to endure.

“I want us to think about that pain, that brokenness and that terrible pain that suicide can leave behind as we remember this beautiful, very young, talented life, fabulous life.

“I want us also to remember that when we feel overcome with our sickness, our demons, our pain, our panic and our darkness to please talk and keep talking.”

Fr Wright explained that he had a brain tumour removed five years ago and subsequently he suffered depression. He said: “It was horrific, terrible. I told the doctor I would have the back of my head opened five times before I would experience this again. It was a very, very real feeling.”

Speaking to Caolán’s family, Fr Wright said: “I can see your hearts are broken. I can see your eyes burning.”

“We pray for you and may one day you know great peace.

“If we want to do something for Caolán’s family, reach out for help when you are in trouble. When it comes our way, I am going to ask and get help.”

Caolán’s friend Ryan, who grew up with him, said: “First and foremost I would like to thank everyone for their generosity over the past few days. Our families have been overwhelmed and we can’t thank you enough. Where do you start with this man. Caolán was without doubt the nicest man I knew. When he came into my granny’s on a Sunday, he always asked how you were and he never left without giving you a hug and his aunties, his granny and the other kids who were there a kiss and a hug.

“My granny loved to see him coming down the path with his wee strut and he greeted her every time without fail: ‘Well Granny, what about ya?’ They would take about their day, something they both loved doing.

“Caolán from no aged loved cars and bikes, a hobby he shared with his late daddy Decky.”

He spoke of when Caolán was young and got a toy bike but got off it in a huff saying it had no power in it and he never drove it again.

“He finally got what he wanted, all the power in the world, when Decky and Emma got a jetski and in the good weather we would go down to Oxford Island. So many great memories we had with family and friends.

“As Caolán got older, he certainly didn’t get wiser. Caolán and school didn’t go hand in hand,” said Ryan revealing how he often threw sickies to avoid going.

“Caolán was a man who just loved himself,” said Ryan smiling. “But nobody adored him more than his wee brother Michael. Like all brothers they fight like cat and dog until Michael got a wee bit older and bigger and Caolán realised he was fighting a losing battle. Michael, always remember, Caolán loved you so much and was very proud of the man you have become.

“As Caolán got older he started finding women attractive, none more than the love of his life Ashleigh. They met in Lurgan’s most romantic spot, Paddy Owens. They went on to spend 10 wonderful years together and had four beautiful kids. They were his pride and joy. Any time he spoke about them, you seen him fill with pride. How Kielam would score so many for Sunnyside and Clann Eireann, how Eoghán was such a pleasant child who always cheered him up with his charm and hugs and how Ruadhán was obsessed with the dog Spot and always on the move. But when his man woman came into his life, that was a different ball game. When Lucie came I remember him say, I love my boys but Lucie is just my wee woman and it’s a different type of love. Kielam, Eoghán, Ruadhán and Lucie, always remember your Daddy will always be with you. He will help you through your lowest of lows and celebrate with you through your highest of highs.

“Caolán, these next words I say not only on behalf of myself but everyone in this Chapel, you are without doubt the nicest man I have had the privilege of knowing. We shared so many memories I’ll never forget. You were always here for us and did so much for us. Your smile alone would light up the darkest of rooms. Never in a million years did I think I would be here doing this and it hurts us all that you are not here. You were a brother to us all and a best friend. Thank you for the memories, the late night chats and for helping us and not even realising it. But more importantly, thank you for being you.

“There won’t be a day we won’t remember you or miss you. I love you wee Bro and it won’t be the same until I meet you again. I love you to bits wee man,” said Ryan, asking the congregation to give Caolán a round of applause and he received a standing ovation.

Mr Doyle was the dearly beloved partner of Ashleigh, Allenhill Park, and loving daddy of Kielam, Eoghán, Ruadhán and Lucie, beloved son of Emma Gilmore and the late Declan Doyle R.I.P, and loving brother of Michael.

Following his funeral he was buried in St Colman’s Cemetery.

Family flowers only please, donations in lieu if desired to Action Mental Health c/o Jack McLearnon & Son Funeral Directors 75 North Street Lurgan BT67 9AH.



Meet crocodile Steve and Kermit the African bull frog on NI animal farm Read full story here





Editor’s Message:

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.