A grieving father has issued an appeal for an end to the “frightening” culture of excess drinking involving some young people.
Danny Mungovan, who runs Quilty Holiday Cottages, made the plea at the funeral mass for his son, Stephen (20), who was found by Irish Navy divers in the waters off Spanish Point last week.
Addressing the packed congregation in the Star of the Sea Church and hundreds of mourners who stood outside on Sunday last, Danny said his family would never forget the work of all the emergency services, volunteers and neighbours who never stopped walking the shore night and day.
This is the second time that tragedy has struck the family. Another son, Michael (22), was killed when he was struck by a train while he was working at Vauxhall Station, South London in October 2000.
Stating that both he and his wife, Geraldine, do not drink, Danny said he offered several times to go out and purchase some alcohol for Stephen’s great friends over the last week but they refused point blank.
“I don’t want anyone going out tonight or any other night drowning their sorrows in Stephen’s name. The culture of excess drinking with young people is frightening.
“It was alcohol that has put us here today. We wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have the problem only for that. People might call me a dinosaur. I came from a different time when people like me and those around me didn’t drink and we were still able to live a life.
“If we want a monument to Stephen, let us start now so that other children don’t wind up in the same position because they do not know what they are doing.
“I don’t want any car runs organised by alcoholic companies, like I have seen. I am not anti-drink. People can go out, have a drink and have fun but know how you came home with your friends safely,” said.
“Stay alive,” he appealed to the congregation. “We were blessed with six lovely children. We were blessed with our business and have met so many lovely people over the years. A third of our family has been taken out. I am old and I could be taken out but not a young boy like Stephen.
“If I want any memorial, I would like a change in the drink culture, which is frightening,” he said.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, Danny said he had received a very positive reaction from people to his message. He said he is a private person, who does not seek publicity but he felt it was important to say what he said to try and change Ireland’s drink culture.
Supporting Danny’s views on excessive drinking, Mullagh parish priest, Fr Anthony McMahon, who was the chief celebrant, said it took a lot of strength and composure to deliver such a “powerful message”, which was not an easy thing to do on the day of his son’s funeral.
At the mass, Danny recalled there were dozens of young people around the family home and in the midst of all the tragedy, people still found the time to have a laugh.
“I was the first to see Stephen before his mother and I think I may have been the last to see him. Stephen was very special. He was like my shadow for 18 years. Stephen was never interested in school, only machinery and cars. He tried third level and lasted one day,” he said.
The previous Saturday night, Stephen was sitting in the same church for his brother Michael’s anniversary mass.
Fr McMahon said family and friends are left devastated by Stephen’s passing.
“He was a very popular young man, who made friends easily. He was a bright spark who lit up every room he went into with his infectious fun and banter. He was very good to his friends and family and very obliging to do a turn or give a lift.
“Last week is a week that will never be forgotten. When news broke that Stephen was missing, there was an outpouring of love and support for the Mungovan family,” the parish priest said.