A cloud of grief hung over the east Mayo town yesterday (Monday) as his remains were removed from the Church of Our Lady Help of Christians to Kilconduff Cemetery.
Not since the funeral of Garda Robert McCallion two years ago has the community being shrouded in such sorrow, another precious young life being lost to his family and friends.
Gary died in a drowning accident in the Nam Song River near the town of Vang Vieng.He had been coming to the end of a two-week holiday and was due to return to Australia where he was working for the past year.
His remains arrived home to his native Cullane, Swinford, on Saturday as hundreds of mourners descended on the family residence to offer their support to the Price family and pay their respects to the deceased.
Compounding the enormous sense of loss was the fact Gary’s 24th birthday would have taken place today (Tuesday, May 29).
His former playing colleagues at Castlebar Celtic, Swinford Soccer Club and Swinford GAA Club formed an impressive guard of honour as the remains were carried through the silent streets of the town.
They were received by Fr. Dermot Meehan, P.P., Swinford, who celebrated Requiem Mass. He was assisted by Fr. Derek Gormelly, C.C.
In comforting words for the Price family, Fr. Meehan compared life to a beautiful garden and said Gary had touched the hearts of so many during his short time with us.
A number of moving yet genuinely warm tributes were paid to Gary by a number of friends who held him in the highest regard.
Alan Carter, who grew up with him, said he treasured the memorable times they spent together over the years. He was fulsome in his praise of Gary’s loyalty and kindness.
Shane Hynes, who played with him in the Castlebar Celtic side that won the FAI Youths Cup in 2007 and accompanied him in Laos, said he was honoured to have enjoyed the friendship of such a fine person. His unselfishness and generosity was reflected in the way he played football.
Kieran Lynskey, who had also been with him in Laos, said he will always remember Gary as a man who lived life with a smile on his face.
Mayo senior footballer Aiden Campbell, who went to college with him, also made reference to Gary’s admirable qualities of dependability and courtesy as well as his outstanding sense of honour.
Kevin Price said he had not only lost a brother but also an outstanding friend. They had shared great times together growing up and he will always carry those memories with him.
In the closing tribute, Donal Benson, Swinford Soccer Club, said while everybody who knew Gary had been devastated by his death, there was comfort in the belief that his services were required in heaven as a major football game was surely in the offing.
Gary is survived by his parents Gerry and Margaret, brother Kevin and sisters Deirdre and Aisling, to whom heartfelt sympathy is tendered.