Cyril Duncan

A Eulogy

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Given at Saint Anne’s Church, Portmarnock, County Dublin, at his Funeral Mass on Saturday the 14th of June, 2008 at 11 a.m.

Two months ago, on the very happy occasion of Genevieve and Simon’s wedding, I, on behalf of Lek and all our family, had to thank so many people. Now, two months later, on this the saddest of occasions, at Cyril’s funeral, I have to say ‘thank you’ again to so many people – including quite a few to whom I also had to say ‘thank you’ at the wedding.

Firstly, I would like to thank the priests of the Parish, Father Micheál and Father Niall, who have stood by us again. Also ‘thank you’ to Majella McDonagh who sang so beautifully today. She has really sung her heart out for us this morning.

I would like to thank the Buddhist Monks, who I now know are praying for Cyril in Thailand as we speak. I also want to thank those who are offering prayers for him in the Muslim Temple in Thailand, and for all others who are praying for him in Thailand. I also want to thank the Cistercian Monks in Roscrea, where I went to school, who are praying for Cyril now.

Many people helped in getting Cyril’s body back to us so quickly – in particular Lek’s brother Wichan, Lek’s nephew Dang, their wives and family, all of whom did such great work in getting Cyril’s body back to us so soon. Thank you so much.

Cyril’s great buddy, Brian Kenny, did wonderful work for us in Thailand. Brian asked me not to say the words ‘thank you’ and I won’t. However, I have to acknowledge the wonderful things he did. Brian, like so many, loved Cyril. He had the awful job of identifying Cyril’s body and telling us the awful news. Both Lek and I were very grateful that it was a friend like Brian, and not a stranger, who conveyed the news to us. Brian literally brought Cyril’s body back to us.

Two months ago when Cyril came back for Genevieve’s wedding, his friend Kevin Tighe was waiting for him as the airplane doors opened. Kevin works in Dublin Airport. Kevin was there again on Thursday night, the first person to take Cyril’s remains from the plane, and I want to acknowledge Kevin’s enormous contribution.

Also, I would like to say a special word of thanks to that great bunch of boys and girls – Cyril’s buddies. Both Lek and I know how much you also miss and love Cyril. Your being with us this week has been a big help to us. I am asking you all to keep in contact with Lek and myself in the future. Cyril is absolutely irreplaceable to us – an irreplaceable boy. However, you now have two sets of parents – your natural parents, and myself and Lek who are now your co-parents. Also, Genevieve, Garmon and Pamela have whole new sets of brothers and sisters. So, please always remember this.

I also want to thank my friend, Eamon Duffy, and everybody from the ‘Blazing Saddles’ who has been so helpful to us.

I also want to mention Kevin and Rosemary, Cyril’s godparents, who I know miss him so much.

The next, and most difficult part to these few words I have to say, is to talk about our beloved son Cyril – Genevieve, Pamela and Garmon’ brother, and Simon and Lisa’s brother-in-law.

Cyril was born in 1977 and was called after my father, Cyril. My father died of a massive heart attack in 1976 aged 61 years. Our Cyril died on the 7th of June 2008 of a massive heart attack in Bangkok, aged 31 years.

When putting the death notices in the paper, one of the first questions I had to deal with was Cyril’s address. To do justice to that remarkable boy, the only address should have been ‘Citizen of the World’. Cyril really was a citizen of the world.

Thinking of Cyril, I realised he had no assets. He owned no property or share portfolios and he never even thought of a pension plan. Cyril was a free spirit, if ever there was one.

I am going to quote a few poems to you, as I have found them helpful. The first short poem is by the American prose poet Raymond Carver. He wrote this poem when he knew he was dying of terminal cancer. It is called ‘Last Fragment’.


And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

Raymond Carver
(May 25th 1938 – August 2nd 1988)

Cyril was beloved, and he knew that he was loved and treasured by Lek and myself, his brother Garmon, his sisters Pamela and Genevieve, his brother-in-law, Simon and sister-in-law, Lisa; his uncles and aunts, his cousins, his grandmother and his many of friends. Not only was Cyril loved, but we also knew that he loved each and every one of us. Cyril had a habit of telling people that he loved them and we knew he meant it! So, Cyril achieved the most fundamental and important thing in life. Cyril was loved and Cyril loved.

Cyril packed so much into his short life of 31 years. My good friends, and Cyril’s good friends Frank Quinn and John Twomey, had a slight disagreement. Frank believed that Cyril lived at least two lives, but John felt that was an under-estimate and that he really lived three lives. On this occasion, John, I think you are right. I believe it is nearer to three lives. He was an exceptionally talented boy. He succeeded in everything he put his mind to. I am emphasising everything he put his mind to! He learned to speak Thai – not by going to classes but by listening to people on the street. He was the only one of our children who could converse with Lek, his mother, in Thai.

Cyril had many jobs. In particular, I would like to mention Les and his co-workers in Baldoyle. Les had a wonderful party for Cyril when he went around the world three years ago. When he came back for Genevieve’s wedding two months ago, he had another party for Cyril. So thank you so much, Les.

Cyril was a wonderful photographer and some of the photos which he took of the many places he visited can be seen on the Internet.

Cyril phoned me at Christmas 2006 from the Andaman Islands off India. I am told it is almost impossible to get work visas for those Islands. Cyril had the idea of setting up a little bar on the beach built with bamboo to celebrate the New Year. He then prepared some of his wonderful cocktails. He was a great man for preparing cocktails. Cyril was so successful in this little venture that one of the local entrepreneurs contacted him and told him he could get him any working visa he wanted. He said Cyril could have 50% of the profits from running a similar bar - which Cyril would set up and run. However, he refused the offer and, as usual, Cyril moved on.

Like all our family, Cyril loved animals. This is something which they inherited from their mother. When he was in the Andaman Islands, which I have just mentioned to you, Cyril did something unusual which I have never come across before. He was fond of a dog which I think belonged to one of the food vendors and Cyril rented the dog for a month. I must admit I never come across anybody renting a dog before – but Cyril did!

Cyril told Genevieve that there were two things he wanted to do in life. He wanted to teach children, and to live in his mother’s country, Thailand. He achieved both. Cyril was very happy teaching his young children English for the last year in Bangkok. The children loved him, and Cyril loved them very much. But the children had problems pronouncing his name so Cyril agreed they could call him ‘Teacher Cereal’. So poor ‘Teacher Cereal’ is no more. I know all the children will miss Cyril too.

You may have noticed from the newspaper that we are setting up a fund in Cyril’s name for the benefit of poor and disadvantaged children in Thailand. In particular, we are considering making donations to organisations, such as the Charity run by Father Mairer in the Klong Toey Slum in Bangkok where, among other things, this Charity offers support and love to children dying of AIDS which they got from their parents. We are also considering donating some of the funds raised to help Relief Centres for disadvantaged children run by Buddhist Monks in Thailand. So, Cyril’s involvement with Thai children will continue into the future.

I suppose what many people will associate in their minds with Cyril is his delight of adventure. He travelled the world twice – the first time with his girlfriend Catherina. Catherina is now in a new relationship and is expecting a baby. Both Lek and I wish her and her new partner all the best for the future. Cyril set off again three years ago and travelled throughout Africa and Asia. He then spent nine months in his beloved India where he bought a motor cycle, and he drove through India and adjoining countries, and through Nepal. Cyril drove his motor bike up and down the streets of New Delhi, Mumbai and Kathmandu, and many other places. I have a feeling Cyril didn’t obey all the Rules of the Road there!

So, briefly, what qualities had our dear Cyril to enable him to achieve so much in such a short period of time?

Firstly, he had extraordinary courage and organisational abilities. Cyril was very kind to everyone. His friend and neighbour, Suzanne O’Daly, when talking about him last night, emphasised his gentleness and I think she was right. I think what Cyril will be most remembered for is his lovely personality, his kindness and sensitivity. Cyril had a wonderful sense of humour and could put people at their ease. I think this came from his gracefulness - a quality which I associate with his Thai background, which he got from his mother. Cyril was always smiling. It is hard to find a picture in which he wasn’t smiling He had a wonderful smile and when Cyril smiled it just wasn’t just the world that lit up. No! It was the whole Universe that lit up!. And Cyril smiled an awful lot! He loved everybody and never forgot to tell them he loved them. Cyril never hurt anybody. He was so special. My good friend Kevin Liston has written a book on conflict resolution. Kevin spent many years researching the book. However, Kevin could have saved a lot of time by just watching Cyril in action. If Kevin had watched Cyril for just two weeks he would have found out everything he needed to know about conflict resolution.

I have two short poems which I would like to read to you. Cyril loved Ireland and Thailand, but he had a special love of India and the Indian people. I would like to read a short poem by the Indian poet Tagore. It is called ‘They Are Counted Too’.


Life’s honouring-deeds we start and do not do –
I know, I know that these are counted too.
The flowers that do not come to flower
But drop to earth and lose their power,
The rivers that run dry in desert, never to renew,
I know, I know that these are counted too.

Today’s intentions that are not seen through,
I know, I know that these are not untrue.
All my deeds so long delayed,
All the tunes I have not played
Sound out on your bina’s strings, all performed by you.
I know, I know that these are counted too.

Rabindranath Tagore
(May 6th 1861 – August 7th 1941)
Translated by Joe Winter

So, for all of you – and especially Cyril’s friends – please play Cyril’s tunes, love each other, and have some fun. If there is some big journey - or even an inner journey you are thinking of making - or a creative act you wish to undertake, Confront your Fears! Don’t be afraid. Just think of Cyril and do it! It will in the words of the poet, be Cyril’s tunes you will be playing. So, please do it, and please never forget Cyril.
The final poem! There are so many poets who suffered tragedy in their own lives. I was going to pick one from our own Seamus Heaney who lost his brother aged 4 years. However, I decided to pick one by Wordsworth, who had to do what no parent should ever have to do and bury their own child. Not only had he to do it, but also my friend and neighbour, Seamus Kenny, the Brett family, and Ciaran Reidy’s parents. Ciaran was a friend of Garmon and Cyril who died some years back, and he is not forgotten. Jane Killalea and my good friend in England, Pat Salvadori, and Gerry Buckley – Cyril’s friends – who had a cot death. All of them had to do this awful, unnatural thing and bury their beloved child. I know that after the cot death Cyril called in to see his friend Gerry every day for almost a year.

The poem is written by William Wordsworth and it is called ‘Desideria’.


SURPRISED by joy - impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport - O! With whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recall’d thee to my mind
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been beguiled as to be blind
To my grievous loss? - That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor year unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

William Wordsworth
(1170 – 1850)

So, Dear Cyril! We will never forget you, in the words of the poet, even for a fraction of an hour. We will love you forever and you will love us back.

Thank you everybody.

In the Buddhist religion the main commemoration ceremonies for people who have died take place after 10 days and 100 days.

On the 17th June 2008, the 10th day anniversary of Cyril's death, the Buddhist ceremony took place in Cyril's home in Portmarnock celebrated by the renowned Buddhist monk.


On their trip to Thailand in September 2008, Brian, Lek and Cyril's Thai relations attended a special Buddhist ceremony to mark the 100th day anniversary of his death on 17th September.

100 day ceremony
100 day ceremony
100 day ceremony
100 day ceremony


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