Limerick man who died on work holiday in Australia remembered as having “smile that could brighten anyone’s day”

A 3km procession made its way from the late Mr Walsh's home in Rhebogue to St Mary's Church on Athlunkard Street. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

A LIMERICK man who collapsed and died on an extended work holiday in Australia last month was remembered at his funeral mass on Saturday (October 21) as having “a smile that could brighten anyone’s day”.

Alan “Buller” Walsh (26) died in the staff compound of a lithium mine in Perth, where he was working, on September 28 last.

His remains were flown back to Ireland last Tuesday, with the assistance of the Claddagh Association Inc in Australia and the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, Northern Ireland.

On Saturday, a large gathering of family and friends walked behind Mr Walsh’s coffin, which was driven 3km by hearse from his home in Rhebogue to St Mary’s Church, Athlunkard Street, in Limerick City.

Mr Walsh’s coffin was shouldered into the church, draped in the flag of his local rugby club Richmond’s RFC, as a guard of honour was performed by representatives from the club, as well as St Patrick’s GAA club and Geraldines AFC, all of whom he had lined out for.

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Paying an emotional tribute, a friend told mourners Mr Walsh was “so full of life, always smiling and carefree”.

“You could make anyone laugh if they were having a bad day – no matter how sad we were, you would take the hurt away,” he said.

In a heartbreaking tribute, Mr Walsh’s best friend, Thomas Madden, thanked Mr Walsh’s parents “for introducing Alan into my life at the age of just four years old, which blossomed into 22 years of a beautiful friendship, from sleepovers, birthday parties, and heading off to sports events – so thank ye for that – we made memories which I’ll never forget”.

During his emotional tribute, Mr Madden raised chuckles from the congregation as he recalled how Mr Walsh loved going on trips abroad “to work on (his) tan … but when there was no trips abroad planned, Alan could be found down in the local sunbed shop – because let’s be honest, he was mad about himself”.

“Alan had a great passion for sport, playing for Geraldines AFC, Richmond RFC, and St Patrick’s GAA, he had a great career with each team he represented, and he wore his club colours with pride.”

“I can only imagine the career he would have had if we could have got him out of bed on cold mornings,” he joked.

Mr Madden said Mr Walsh’s death has left “a massive void” in all his friend’s lives “of which Alan was such a huge part of, his humor was infectious”.

“That void will never be filled, because there was no one like our Alan – he was witty, energetic, charismatic, and an all-round good guy.”

“The world will be a darker place without Alan’s smile in it,” Mr Madden told mourners.

“So, if we can all take something positive from Alan’s life, it is this – try and adopt a slice of Alan’s attitude towards life; always laughing and always smiling; that’s the way he lived. There was never a dull moment when he was around.”

Mr Walsh, whose remains were cremated at Shannon Crematorium, County Clare, is survived by his parents Anne and Mike and sisters Grace and Michelle.