TRAFFIC was halted, road works stopped and people stood still and were silent, as the military funeral of Gunner Nigel Costello made its way through the streets of Tullamore last Wednesday.
The 26 year old died following an accident as he was driving home from work in Mullingar on Saturday June 25.
His comrades formed a guard of honour as the band of the 4th Western Brigade led the funeral procession through the town to the graveyard.
The remains were carried on a gun carriage along the streets, with a very large procession of mourners behind.
The Church of the Assumption in Tullamore had people standing in the aisles as well as outside as they gathered to pay their respects to Gunner Costello’s family and Fiance.
Among those in attendance were Acting Brigade Commander Col Gerald Ahern and Officer Commanding 4th Field Artillery Regiment Lt Col Ray Yorke.
The Mass was con-celebrated by Fr Patrick Donnelly, Fr Shane Crombie, Fr Tony Gonoude, Fr Gerard Dowd, Fr Robert McCabe and Fr Tom Brady.
Chief Co-Concelebrant Fr Patrick Donnelly delivered a moving homily.
He said when his family were describing Nigel the same word kept coming up. Love. “Nigel loved his family. Nigel loved his new house. Nigel loved the army. Nigel loved life,” he said.
He said Nigel loved his family very much and this was demonstrated in so many ways, “from great big bear hugs to giving out presents from under the Christmas tree.”
“Nigel was affectionate and he wasn’t afraid to show it,” he said.
To Nigel’s family he said “To lose a son or brother at such a young age has to be heart breaking. Some say time is a great healer. No words can make it ok. Some wounds never heal. But knowing he loved you and loves you still hopefully in time will bring you comfort.”
Fr Donnelly said Nigel’s next love was his second family, the army. He spoke of his overseas tours to Kosovo and Chad.
“Nigel was a loyal soldier. His army friends were his brothers. He had a personality that affected everyone, for he was larger than life. He gladly and proudly gave ten years of his life to the army in service to our country. He loved the uniform and was so proud to wear it.”
He said Nigel’s love of people displayed his ability to put the needs of others above the needs of his own, which “earned (him) the respect of his colleagues, he was a dependable soldier.”
Fr Donnelly said his third love was his dogs. He said Nigel had done his best to try and teach his dogs social skills. That meant going out jogging with them in a luminous vest and runners with luminous yellow bands on them. “I’d say the dogs were mortified to be seen with him,” said Fr Donnelly.
He said that Nigel loved Manchester United and his idol was Eric Cantona. He also loved his favourite mode of transport, the Audi A4.
“He loved the camera, that is posing to get his picture taken,” joked Fr Donnelly.
He advised the congregation to remember happier times. “You all have so many memories of Nigel. Treasure those memories over the days and months ahead. Share those memories with one another.”
Finally he described life as a gift from God, “Nigel made the most of this gift and did his best to use that gift well in the service of others. His gift of life he shared with so many people, brightening up their lives. Two words that summed up Nigel are Nigel loved. To honour his memory let us do likewise.”