Former Kilkenny hurler 'lit up every life with his smile and laugh', funeral hears

Former Kilkenny hurler 'lit up every life with his smile and laugh', funeral hears
James Nolan Clara

A former minor Kilkenny hurling star who “lit up every life with his roguish smile and laugh,” who died in a single vehicle crash last Friday has been laid to rest following his Requiem Mass on Tuesday.

James Nolan, (34) from Carn, Dunbell, Co Kilkenny who played at corner forward for his local club Clara GAA and was on the panel of the Kilkenny senior team, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency services which attended the scene a short time later.

Hundreds of mourners began to arrive at the village church of  St Colman’s Church, Clara around 45 minutes prior to the funeral which was meant to start at midday but was delayed 15 minutes such was the volume of mourners gathered to pay their respects.

Clara GAA club provided a guard of honour as the hearse carrying Mr Nolan’s remains arrived a short distance from his home. Ten priests concelebrated the Mass.


The altar was adorned by yellow gerbera and white carnations. Strains of the hymn Be Not Afraid from a local choir and orchestra which filled the church as Mr Nolan’s oak coffin adorned with the Clara and Kilkenny hurling jerseys was welcomed into the church.

Several of his emotional Clara teammates and brothers acted as pallbearers. A photograph of the young man and a floral wreath consisting of white lilies and roses were placed on his coffin.


His sisters Margaret and Elaine placed religious symbols on his coffin.

Six symbols of James’ life were brought to the altar, six symbols, a photograph of his family, a hurl, sliotar and football, a speaker representing his fondness of Irish music, a book of jokes showing his quick wit, the Farmer’s Journal (newspaper) which showed his passion, talent and his passion for farming. His parents presented the bread and wine to the altar.

Parish Priest Willie Purcell who was the chief celebrant told mourners at the start of the Requiem Mass: “Gerry, Brigid (parents) and brother Dermot, Margaret, Elaine, Catherine, Peter and Claire all of us gather around you today and all we can do is pray.


“Our entrance here today is that God is with us. God never leaves us and God will take us through this even this difficult situation. This loss, this sadness.God does not abandon us.

“James came to this church baptised, first penance , First Holy Communion, Confirmation. This church was part of his journey in life. His spiritual journey. He gathered with you in times of happiness and times of sadness, times of celebration and now we gather around him this day with our prayers and our support for you.”

Fr Purcell said: “God our hearts are troubled. Our hearts are truly broken, they are broken by disbelief and shock.

"But a heart that is broken is filled with love. And all us who gather with his parents, family and extended family and the hundreds of people outside our church and who are joining us on our webcam from all over the world we surround you with our prayers.

“Last Friday morning a great silence came over this parish.and community. A silence that expressed the immense sorrow and the debt of sorrow of every single person in this parish because James was loved. Everybody knew him. And in that silence we struggled to find words to comfort James' family.

“Sometimes we found it difficult to say the words or to express what we were truly feeling in our hearts. Our tears, many, many tears which have been shed in your house and as you as a family, those tears express the immense sorrow that we all feel.

Fr Purcell recounted how James was loved by everyone. “He had that roguish smile and roguish laugh that got you laughing yourself even though you were never too sure what you were laughing at, but it was just infectious, and he made you laugh.

“A man who shared everything he had, his talents and gifts with everyone. I was told outside the church this morning that when in Primary School the teacher asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up and James said a hurler and a farmer and he fulfilled that dream and that wish.”

He continued: “James was a man who loved many different kinds of sports, whether it was hurling, whether it was soccer, whether it was athletics (He was an All-Ireland long distance runner) James was a man who immersed himself in all the gifts that God had given him."

In an eulogy at the end of the Mass his remaining brothers Peter and Dermot emotionally thanked everyone gathered for all of their help.

They said: “A huge thank you to everyone who helped everyday at home over the past few days. James touched all our lives, he was a fantastic son, brother, uncle, teammate and friend.