Monday 22 January 2018

Brother's loving tribute as 'gentle' murder victim's music played one last time

Mourners at the funeral of Matt Kivlehan, who died after beng stabbed in his apartment in Sligo

Hundreds of mourners were played one last tune by murder victim Matt Kivlehan at his funeral. The popular musician was stabbed to death at his home in Sligo on August 3.

At his funeral yesterday heartfelt tributes were paid to him by his brother Christy, who played a CD recording of his brother on his beloved banjo.

There was a round of applause when the complex traditional Irish piece was finished as Christy Kivlehan spoke of a brother who was gentle, kind and witty , and who loved music.

Christy revealed that while Matt didn't have children himself, he adored his nieces and nephews and in particular the youngest of them, seven-year-old Alan.

"He bought Alan a ukulele a few weeks ago and was looking forward to teaching him how to play it," said Christy.


He recalled getting a guitar lesson from his older brother when he was just 11.

Christy had tried to play the guitar before Matt took it off him and told him to tap his foot to his playing of the instrument.

"After a minute he said 'that's it, the lesson is over'. I asked him why and he looked at me and said 'you can't teach rhythm' and he walked off," he told mourners at St Joseph's Church in Ballytivnan in Sligo.

Traditional music friends played throughout the funeral mass, which the family said they wanted to be a celebration of his life.

"He was gentle, good- humoured, sharp-witted and inspired, and the only thing that he was ever short of was a bad word for anyone else," said Christy.

Fr Hugh McGonagle told mourners that Matt had been a gifted individual from an early age, was a celebrated carpenter and had made his first guitar when he was just 11.

He said his funeral Mass spoke "volumes of the greatness and goodness and kindness of this decent gentle inoffensive gentle person to show that we are all better than the tragic circumstances that surround Martin's death.

"While we know that capricious and unpredictable deaths occur with regularity, they still evoke shock and disbelief, but Matt's humanity and generosity transcends all of the bad things that have happened," he added.

He said the murder victim had become known as something of a 'gadget man' growing up, always making things with his hands, always inventing things.

His first guitar, said Fr McGonagle, didn't sound great "but it looked fantastic after his many hours decorating it with all the colours of the rainbow - he probably thought he was Jimmy Hendrix".

The priest told mourners that Matt's love was traditional music "which transcends the soul" and he had been looking forward to this week's Fleadh in Sligo, having taken part in countless traditional music sessions over the years.

As Mr Kivlehan's coffin was taken from the church, Jimmy McCarthy's Bright Blue Rose was played by his friends

They accompanied his remains to Sligo Cemetery for the burial, where they played one last tune over his grave.

Mr Kivlehan died after being stabbed at his apartment. Two people arrested after the murder were later released pending further inquiries.

Anyone who may have been in the vicinity of Holborn Street between 10pm on Sunday August 2 and 1pm on Bank Holiday Monday, August 3 to contact the incident room at Sligo Garda Station 071 - 9157000, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.

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