Above: Ardfinnan man Karl Burke (left) and Oliver Browne, co-chairs of the Covid-19 commemoration event in New Jersey, with the limestone hand-carved Celtic cross that was shipped over from Roscommon to the Shillelagh Club’s grounds.
An Ardfinnan man spearheaded a major Covid-19 commemoration project for the Irish community in New Jersey last weekend.
Karl Burke was co-chair of the event that remembered all those who lost their lives during the pandemic.
Clan na hEireann staged the event at the Shillelagh Club in West Orange, New Jersey, and it was also streamed live on ShillelaghClub.com.
As well as all those lives lost during the pandemic, Covid-19 restrictions also affected the travel plans of people around the world, none more so than Karl Burke who was unable to travel home for the funeral of his father, Cyril Burke, who died last December.
“Now that the end is in sight for the pandemic, we hosted this outdoor memorial Mass to support those who have lost loved ones over the past 18 months,” said Karl.
“We commissioned a limestone hand-carved Celtic Cross from Michael Carney Memorial Headstones, Portahard, Frenchpark, Co Roscommon, and this was shipped over to New Jersey for the event.
“It has been a very tough 18 or so months for Irish people here, not least because some members of the community lost loved ones at home and couldn’t travel back to Ireland to be with them in their final days or for their funeral ceremonies.
“I experienced that myself last December when my father, Cyril, passed away.
“My wife Janet, sons Karl and Brendan, daughters Caitlin, Niamh and Molly and I couldn’t get home for the funeral because of the pandemic.
“We were very grateful for the opportunity, thanks to my siblings, to watch a stream of the funeral Mass and burial, but it just wasn’t the same as being there.
Above: Cyril Burke, formerly of Lady’s Abbey, Ardfinnan and late of The Elms, Cahir, who died last December
“Our ceremony last Sunday remembered all those who passed away during the strange circumstances of the past year-and-a-half, and also to acknowledge the pain and loss experienced by their family members.
“It was a major logistical undertaking to get the Celtic cross commissioned and transported here to New Jersey but it has been worth it all.
“It is a work of art that will form a centrepiece of the Shillelagh Club’s grounds for many years to come.
“The memorial event also recognised the generations of Irish immigrants who charted the way forward to help us to continue supporting our communities,” added Karl.
Those attending brought framed photographs of their loved ones to be displayed and blessed during the service.
For more Tipperary news see Clonmel vaccination centre hits milestone figure
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