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The community has been devastated by the untimely death of Michael Hynes of Whitegate.

Rich tributes paid at funeral of talented young Clare hurler

A PROFOUND sense of grief spread across East Clare following the untimely death of Whitegate’s Michael ‘Mikey’ Hynes. 

The 22-year-old was a past pupil of Scariff Community College and a fourth-year Business Studies student at the University of Limerick (UL).

His funeral mass at St Flannan’s Church, Whitegate, last Sunday (April 10) afternoon attracted hundreds of mourners to pay their respects and to support Michaels parents Declan and Annette; his sisters Katie, Alison and Corinna; and his grandmother Teresa Hynes.

The late Michael Hynes of Whitegate.

Councillor Pat Burke, a neighbour of the Hynes family, said the scenes witnessed in recent days were unprecedented.

“The outpouring of grief and sympathy for Michael and his family is something we have never seen before,” he said.

“I have never seen as many people line the streets of Whitegate for anything, ever. There were six or seven different guards of honour from the likes of the national school, to the senior hurlers, to classmates from UL. Despite the crowds, you could hear a pin drop. There was such respect and such sorrow. At times it was overwhelming.”

A talented hurler, Michael was Whitegate’s top scorer in last years Clare Senior Hurling Championship (SHC), scoring 1-30 in four matches.

In 2018, he captained Scariff Community College to its first All-Ireland hurling title in 28 years. Last February, he was named man-of-the-match in UL’s All-Ireland intermediate final victory.

Councillor Burke said that Michael’s sporting skills had brought great joy to many people over the years. “He was just incredible and looked up to by all the children in the village,” he said.

“If Michael was to puck a ball to one of them, it would make their day. I was involved when he was playing U-12 and U-14 and whenever a team was in trouble in a final, Michael was always the go-to man.”

A tribute from Whitegate GAA Club described the Hynes family as “steeped in the tradition of Whitegate GAA and Camogie Clubs”.

“Michael carried on this tradition with pride, purpose and grace,” a post said. “He also represented Scariff Community College, the University of Limerick and Clare with the same endeavour.”

In a very moving message, the club’s Senior Hurling Panel also extended sympathy to Michael’s family.

“He was renowned throughout the county and further afield for his remarkable hurling ability and his commitment to, what was to him, his craft,” a post said.

“To witness Michael play hurling was special. To play hurling alongside Michael and call him one of us was even more special. He brought immense joy to us as a group, both on and off the field.

“Notwithstanding his hurling prowess, Michael was a gentleman and a credit to his wonderful family. Our hearts are broken but as long as the black and red of Whitegate GAA is worn, Michael Hynes, our teammate, our friend, our Mikewill be remembered and honoured.” 

Scariff Hurling Club described Michael as “a fantastic sportsperson” saying that he “excelled in handball where he was part of Clare All-Ireland winning teams but particularly stood out in the game of hurling”.

“Michael was always a joy to watch in the Red and Black of Whitegate with performances characterised by marvellous skill, vision, accuracy, and above all, sportsmanship,” the club said.

Among the hundreds of messages of sympathy were tributes from Whitegate Community Council, Mountshannon Community Council, Whitegate Camogie Club, Scariff Ladies and Scariff RFC.

The tributes paid to Michael prove that he was held in huge regard on the field of play and beyond it. His friendly disposition endeared him to staff and customers at Rodger’s Centra, Scariff, where he worked part-time. Michael was described as a “treasured colleague” and “a true gentleman always”. 

Councillor Burke said that, in that role, Michael had a smile for everyone and a willingness to help.

“In everything he did, Michael was a fabulous young fella,” he said. “His loss is devastating. Our hearts go out to his family. This is so heart-breaking and so devastating, it’s beyond words.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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