Hundreds of mourners, including prominent figures from Irish horse racing, have gathered for the funeral of “charismatic”, 13-year-old jockey Jack de Bromhead, who died in a pony race over the weekend.
Our visitors learned about the colorful life and many interests of Jack, son of Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National winning trainer Henry de Bromhead.
Mr de Bromhead told the gathering stories of Jack’s “uncanny” knowledge and love of pony racing that had “blown him away”.
His death after falling from a pony while riding at the Glenbeigh Festival in Co Kerry sent widespread shock to the Irish racing community.
Large crowds including celebrity jockeys and trainers gathered ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony outside the church in Butlerstown, Co. Waterford, while thousands more watched online.
Representatives from Taoiseach Micheal Martin and President Michael D. Higgins were also present.
Trainer Charlie Swan and jockey Robbie Power were among the hundreds of early attendees, while jockeys Rachael Blackmore, Barry Geraghty and Davey Russell were also in attendance.
An honor guard of Waterpark College students lined up in front of the church, organized by Grand National Champion jockey Rachel Blackmore, with young mourners in racing silks and boots.
A girl was seen holding a pony teddy bear and the funeral program while waiting outside the church.
It was raining heavily when the wicker coffin was carried from the hearse to the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.
During the eulogy, Mr de Bromhead thanked everyone for their support, saying: “Every person we meet gives you a little bit more strength.”
With his wife Heather at his side, he spoke about their son’s love of surfing in Tramore, farming and tractor driving, show jumping and hunting – having once won a hunting horn blowing competition.
Recounting a conversation he had with his son after falling during a pony race, he recounted how the boy had said to him, “Dad, I love pony racing, it’s amazing, I get such a kick out of it.”
Mr de Bromhead said: “And he did, you could see it, and that was after a fall. It was amazing. He loved it.
“I said, ‘What about the fall, would that put you off a little?’ and he said, “Henkel boy, if you can’t take the falls, you can’t do it. What can you say?”
During a conversation he had with his own mother, Sally, months ago about Jack, Mr de Bromhead said: “I was saying about school and he’s missing a class or two or whatever, and she said, ‘Honey, Jack just doesn’t really have time for school’.”
Jack’s twin sister Mia said she will miss her brother’s “cheeky smile that made all my friends fall in love with you”.
She added: “Jack you were the best brother ever, I was so lucky when you were born with me. May you rest in peace my beautiful brother.”
Jack’s grandfather, Andrew Moffat, recounted Jack’s interest in backhoes and driving tractors from an early age, and his newfound nickname for him “Grandy Boy”. and his father, “Hen Boy”.
He said “his interest in tractors and trailers grew at every opportunity,” and he also shared stories of Jack’s humor and sense of adventure.
He, his grandson, was “loved and revered” by all.
“Jack’s interest in motor vehicles began around the age of seven, sitting on my knee with his hands on the wheel and his right foot on the accelerator, and he quickly mastered driving,” he said.
“Over the next few weeks his confidence grew and the dirt roads were taken at some speed. The first crash happened a few weeks later when the front wheel fell off while hurtling down the pavement.
“Jack expertly stopped the jeep, jumped out to find the wheel knots, ‘don’t worry grandpa,’ he said, ‘the boys will fix it.’
“Jack soon drove all of the family vehicles and often shared videos of his driving with his grandmother, Marian.
“As the summer term drew to a close, Henry and Heather decided it might be in Jack’s interest to change schools. After much deliberation, Jack was enrolled as a boarder at Kilkenny College and was due to start college on Tuesday 30th August.
“Around 6pm Marian and I drove off to see Jack off and fill his top box with his favorite sweets and drinks. Later that evening, Heather called us to say the orientation went well and Jack was in good shape and not stressed.
“Heather called Wednesday afternoon and said Jack was happy and okay. At this point I was very desperate to interrogate Jack to see how far he had gotten in college and if he was fitting in well.
“I shared all my concerns about gangs, bullying and different groups in his class at school.
“Jack reassured me in this way: ‘Well, grandfather, the thing is, they’re mainly farm children, they’re all in my gang now. There will be no rival groups.”
However, Mr Moffatt said the sadness would soon set in.
Mr Moffat said the tragic accident, which he and his wife Marian were present at, saw “all our hopes and dreams for our beautiful, charming, charismatic, wonderful Jack, who is forever destroyed by the fateful horse-riding accident in the dark, murky Atlantic waters became the beach of Rossbeigh”.
He added: “His horse came down, Jack was thrown and in no time at all the horse dealt Jack a fatal blow on the head.
“Our 13 years with our beloved Jack will never be forgotten by his family and all of our friends and colleagues who knew the happiest, most loving child anyone could ask for.”
Jack’s younger sister Georgia paid tribute to her brother during the ceremony, saying he was “the kindest, most caring big brother I could ever ask for.”
She added, “He was never afraid to stand up for people and was always there for you no matter what.”
Jack’s grandmother, Sally de Bromhead, read an excerpt by author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy.
Symbols of Jack’s life brought to the church included a riding crop, goggles, a rugby ball, Ralph Lauren togs, a hunting horn, and a pair of Nike runners.
A hunting horn was played as the hearse pulled away from the church.
Rev. Pat Fitzgerald said of Jack during the ceremony: “He knew he was loved and he reciprocated in so many ways. In that sense his life had a kind of completeness and perfection.
“As we have heard in our reading of the Book of Wisdom, the length of days is not what makes old age honourable, nor is the number of years the true measure of life. Jack really took in and lived the essence of life.”
Jack’s funeral service was held at noon at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Butlerstown in Co Waterford, followed by a private cremation.
Jack is survived by parents Henry and Heather, twin sisters Mia and sister Georgia, grandparents Andrew, Marian, Harry and Sally, aunts and uncles, extended family and friends.
https://www.independent.ie/news/henry-de-bromheads-heartbreaking-words-of-tribute-at-funeral-for-charming-and-charismatic-son-jack-41968005.html Jack de Bromhead: Henry de Bromhead’s heartbreaking words of tribute at the funeral of ‘charismatic and charming’ son Jack