Tragic loss of popular Longford teen reverberates far and wide
2017-08-04 10:17:59 -
By Bill McCarthy
Hundreds filled St Mel’s Cathedral on the morning of Saturday 22 July to bid farewell to a Longford teenager who drowned in the River Shannon four days previous.
Damola Adetosoye, 17, got into difficulty while swimming with more than 20 friends at Tarmonbarry Harbour. His body was recovered by a local boater, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The teenager’s funeral saw dozens of young people mourn alongside close friends and family. The Rev Joseph Okere delivered the homily.
“It is true that Damola’s life has scarcely started, nevertheless it had started already and he has given us 17 golden years of memories of joy, love and life,” he said. “Damola reminds us that we cannot guarantee how long we will live, but that each day we live is God’s gift, and we should live it to the full.”
Rev Okere added: “We are thankful to God for the gift Damola was to all of us, what he has taught us, and we now bid him farewell as he makes his return to God.”
Students from Templemichael College, where Adetosoye was a pupil, delivered several gifts to the altar – including the teenager’s cap, a book, photographs and a trophy belonging to his soccer team. 
Ahead of the funeral, Templemichael College had taken to social media to pay tribute to Adetosoye, noting that he was “very popular” and “an excellent role model”.
“Damola will be remembered as a very talented, enthusiastic, and hardworking student,” the school wrote in the statement. “He immersed himself in so many aspects of our school life and was always on hand to help out.
“Damola will also be remembered on the soccer field where his talents, skills and work ethic were also well known. He represented the school with great fervour, captaining school teams on many occasions.”
Outside of school, Adetosoye was a member of Clonguish GAA and played soccer with Melview FC. Both clubs expressed condolences on social media, with the latter appealing for Adetosoye’s teammates and friends to contact them for support. 
Attic House Teen Project, a youth centre in nearby Longford, also opened its doors to young people struggling with the loss.
“The Attic House team are devastated to hear of Damola’s passing,” the group said. “Our hearts are very heavy tonight and our thoughts and prayers are with Damola’s mum Helen, brothers and sister at this very sad time. To all Damola’s wide circle of friends, proving his popularity, we embrace you all in your grief.”
Several of these friends gathered at Longford’s Albert Reynolds Peace Park on Wednesday 19 July, hours after his death, for a fundraising memorial set to raise money for his family and the costs of the funeral. The event included music, a moment of silence and the release of white balloons into the sky.
A GoFundMe page created in connection with the event collected over €2,040 in donations over five days. Dylan Murray, creator of online fundraiser, declined to comment for Metro Éireann.
Adetosoye was put to rest at Ballymacormack Cemetery in Longford. He is survived by his father Adekunle, his mother Helen, his brothers Victor and Aaron and his sisters Mercy and Sharon.
Metro Éireann’s attempt to contact members of the family was unsuccessful, but a notice provided to media by the Catholic Communications Office said Adetosoye’s parents expressed gratitude to friends, family and the Longford community during the funeral service.

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