herald

Friday 22 September 2017

Son and 'hero' father who died in fire will 'be together forever'

The scene at Sligo Cathedral as mourners gathered to remember
Christopher ‘Sunny’ Harte and his son Sean
The scene at Sligo Cathedral as mourners gathered to remember Christopher ‘Sunny’ Harte and his son Sean

A father and son who died in each others' arms in a devastating fire will be together for eternity, their funeral mass was told.

There were poignant scenes as You'll Never Walk Alone played while the coffins of Celtic FC fans Christopher 'Sunny' Harte (64) and his son Sean (34) were carried from Sligo Cathedral yesterday.

The funeral mass heard how Christopher raised the alarm when he was awoken by the blaze at 5am on Saturday.

He woke four other people living in apartments in the building and told them to get out immediately. He was described as a hero who saved others.

He then tried to drag his son out of their second-floor apartment, but they fell together just inside the front door.

Prime

"That's where they were found, locked arm in arm," said Fr Stephen Walsh, chief celebrant at the mass.

"These were two young men, still in the prime of their life, who enjoyed good health and were snatched away in a single night."

He said they were in the best of form the previous day.

"We don't know yet what happened, but Sunny was woke in the middle of the night and smoke had filled the apartment and he shouted to the others to get out. He saved their lives.

"It seems Sean had already succumbed but [Sunny] went back in to drag him out."

Fr Walsh said not only was Sean Sunny's son, he was also his best friend, and that with their wit and good humour, life was never dull when they were together.

Fr Walsh said Sean was set to move out of the apartment on the day of the fire, his belongings "packed and ready for off". Poignantly, however, his home was to be eternal, said Fr Walsh.

The offertory gifts brought to the altar reflected the men's love of Celtic and the Irish soccer team.

A Celtic jersey and an Ireland scarf symbolised their "love of the Boys in Green", while a bag from men's fashion store EJ's represented their keen fashion sense.

A family picture represented their great love of family and a candle symbolised their love for one another, "which would continue in their eternal home".

Fr Walsh spoke of how the fire had left Sligo town numbed and shocked.

He said no words of comfort could be offered to the Harte family but said everyone was standing with them in their sympathy and sharing in their sadness.

The tricolour- draped coffins travelled less than a mile from the Harte family home in St Brigid's for the 11.30am mass. As they were carried inside, Amazing Grace played.

The chief mourners were Sunny's children Michael, Paul and Shelley and his wife Sue.

He is also survived by his brothers - Sal, Vincent, Sean, Joseph, Paul and Basil - and sisters Molly, Poppy, Eva, Patricia, Martina and Lavina.

Fr Walsh was joined on the altar by Fr Tom Towey, of Ballisodare, Canon Tom Hever attached to St Mary's and Fr Pat Lombard and Fr Dominick Gillooly of St Anne's.

Among the mourners in the overflowing church were Mayor of Sligo Marie Casserly and fellow councillors.

Christy Moore's The Voyage and Mary Black's Sonny were sung during Communion.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News