The late Michael Jennings who was laid to rest today.

Michael Jennings had heart of gold, funeral mourners told

A MAYO born bartender who died in a fire in his New Jersey apartment earlier this month was recalled at his funeral today (Tuesday) as a good-natured, good-humoured, family man who brought joy and fun into the lives of others.

Siobhan Jennings, a daughter of the late Michael Jennings, speaking at his funeral Mass in Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Swinford, quoted one of his favourite mottos: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mr. Jennings (52) – formerly of Bollingbrook Drive, Swinford, and Claremorris – emigrated to the United States with his wife, Catherine, and two daughters, Siobhan and Danielle, in 2012.

He died early on February 6 when a fire broke out at his home in New Jersey. 

At today’s funeral Mass, celebrated by Fr. Dermot Meehan, P.P., Swinford, Siobhan Jennings told the congregation that the family dog, Charlie, had also perished in the fire.

Wherever dad went, Charlie followed. We find peace in the fact they are together now,” she continued.

Ms. Jennings recalled fondly how her father, who worked at Johnny Mac’s House of Spirits in Asbury Park, New Jersey, had been much loved by patrons, especially for 'the belly-laughs' he provided on Sunday mornings.

He loved running a bar,” Siobhan confided. “He used to say that if you got a job you loved you never had to work a day in your life.”

Before emigrating, Mr. Jennings worked tirelessly promoting women's soccer and was a former chairman of the Mayo Women's Soccer League.

Mementoes brought to the altar today included an Arsenal jersey and medals to represent his soccer achievements as well as a token to signify his love of music.

A GoFundMe page was set up by friends in the US to help cover medical bills and the cost of repatriating Mr. Jenning's body to Ireland.

The objective was to raise $30,000 but this target has been well exceeded.