Of one thing I can assure you. If there had been any possibility that Ed had survived the blast he would have had every chance. Some of his and my closest friends in Hong Kong immediately dropped everything to be available to do anything humanly possible to find him and retrieve him. I would like to make particular mention of Christopher Hammerbeck, his surrogate father in Hong Kong, Philip Bowring, a friend stretching back to my own days in St Aidans's House at Ampleforth, James Hopkinson, one of his best mates in Hong Kong, Kirsty Brewis, his flatmate, and Ally McGregor, a rugby colleague, who flew from Madras to Singapore to be on hand. Mention should also be made of the Hong Kong Football Club who immediately set up a 24 hour crisis desk in the Club and did everything in their power to find their missing players. Ed's employers, LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elesvier also deserve a mention. Their managers and human resources people showed the greatest concern and refused to give up hope for his survival even when it had become blatantly evident he had perished.
My sad task to reflect and commemorate Ed's short but vital life is made both harder and easier by the incredible messages of sympathy and tribute that have flooded the website Michael Pritchett and Tom set-up - 559 at the last count and still coming. Hard because the many wonderful messages bring tears to one's eyes to an extent it's hard to bear; easy because it's all there - his whole world and what that world thought of this lovely young man. Shakespeare himself could hardly have written such an eloquent and poignant book of obituaries.
I would just like to add a little contribution of my own to this deluge of appreciation. Ed had the kindest of dispositions. The petty jealousies and envies that afflict most of us were totally absent in Ed. He saw no reason why the world should not be a joyous place with room for everyone. Age, colour, race, religion were never bars in Ed's world. But beneath the welcoming smile and easygoing attitude was a deep moral sensitivity. Ed had an innate sense of fairness. If he thought something was wrong, unfair or prejudiced he would not hesitate to say so. He had a bottom line he would never compromise.
Ed's tragic death in a premeditated slaughter of innocents brings international terrorism into our parlours in North Tipperary, Dublin or wherever we live. If we care about people like Ed then we are involved, whether we like it or not. We cannot be indifferent. We cannot sit on the sidelines any more. The bomb that killed Ed and nearly 200 others like him was a deadly concoction of ammonium nitrate and plastic explosive, straight out of the IRA bombers' manual. This terrible affliction is right in our midst. But it would be wrong to have a knee jerk reaction to this and lash out indiscriminately. It has to be a measured and focussed response. At this point I would like to defer to my great friend and mentor Philip Bowring. Resident in Hong Kong Philip is a renowned journalist and commentator who knew and loved Ed. He wrote a piece about Ed and terrorism in the International Herald Tribune on Friday, following an earlier article in the South China Morning Post which is on the website. To me the article is moving and profound. I am going to take the liberty of reading it to you in its entirety. It is entitled ' A Bali victim's legacy of fearless generosity'. It reads:
"There will be a requiem Mass for him in County Tipperary on Saturday, and a wake at a yacht club on the Shannon. There have been Buddhist prayers for him in Chiang Mai. There will be a memorial service in Hong Kong. His remains will eventually be buried in Ireland - if they are ever identified. This is the end of the body but not the spirit of one Edward Waller, 26.
Ed, a British/Thai national and a member of a visiting Hong Kong rugby team, was just one of at least 180 victims of the Bali bombing. He was not famous. Others, I am sure, are equally worthy of remembrance. But I write about him because I knew him well, in a way I did not personally know victims of Sept. 11, of Jerusalem or Gaza, Colombo or Bogota. I write too because he was one of the nicest, most generous, happiest people I ever met. Whether being personally touched can help one think more clearly about such things I do not know. But I do know this: Ed embodied the antithesis of everything the bombing represents.
I also know what he would say if he were still with us: Keep doing what you want to do. Go to Bali, go to bars, go on rugby tours. This was a person who hung above his office desk this quote from the solo yachtsman Pete Goss: "Life hangs on a very thin thread and the cancer of time is complacency. If you are going to do something, do it now. Tomorrow is too late." Without a doubt, Ed would pay no heed to the cries of the United States and other governments that Indonesia and a growing list of other countries should be avoided.
Ed was always extraordinarily busy. Working hard, playing football, rugby, sailing, partying and looking after just about anyone who came to town and needed to meet a friendly face.
Ed earned a degree from Trinity College, Dublin, and was talented in various sports. But while his skills as a competitive sailor were much in demand by boat owners in Hong Kong - myself included - he was neither an academic nor sporting star. Ed's genius lay in human relationships.
He always smiled, was always helpful, never got angry, was always fun to be with. In spite of his youth, his rugby team made him their captain - not because he was forceful and demanding but because of the way he led with enthusiasm and a sense of fairness.
Off the pitch he made people twice his age feel part of his gang. Girls wanted to be under his wing. He was instinctively sensitive to others' needs, whether for another beer or a word of encouragement. People who met him only briefly remembered him for his winning mix of grace and enthusiasm. At the last count, more than 500 people from all continents had paid tribute on the Internet to his memory.
Ed was a special kind of person in another way which makes the manner of his death doubly poignant. He was an internationalist by birth and education as well as instinct. Part British, part Irish, half Thai, living in Hong Kong, working and travelling in Asia, he was naturally at ease with himself as well as with most of the world. He was the kind of person the bombers could not abide. Or, to put it another way, he had the kind of qualities that have made Tiger Woods a role model for people who care nothing about golf.
Ed was not na´ve. He not only crossed racial barriers, but his own family crossed the Irish religious divide. He was brought up a Catholic in the tradition of his Polish grandmother. But the Wallers were Protestant Anglo-Irish gentry, still viewed by some Celtic Catholics as interlopers though they had been in Tipperary for centuries.
He would have figured that the mentality of the Bali bombers was not much different from those of Omagh or Canary Wharf. But does that stop one sailing, playing rugby or drinking with Irish nationalists? Does that mean one should imprison oneself either in fear or a contrary self-righteousness? Does one condemn a whole nation or a whole religion for the misdeeds of a few? Does one refuse to go to Boston because that was where the IRA raised funds? Or to New York, in case there is another Qaeda attack?
Ed was fearless, optimistic, inclusive and generous. Let his spirit guide the response to Bali."
It's difficult to add to that but I will try. I think we should give our support to politicians and political entities who are prepared to be pro-active and take real steps to combat terrorism at source. Steps and measures I would like to see include stricter controls on international money flows, better regulation of so-called charities and most importantly proper and responsible regulation of the international arms trade. It's hypocritical for a government to be condemning international terrorism with one breath and falling over backwards to sell arms to all and sundry with the next. Just like the security at airports and in public places if we are going to make the world a safer place so as not to lose our loved ones in a Bali type outrage we are going to have to live with constraints to our everyday financial, professional and leisure activities - and we should not mind. If it helps to save any innocent life from such dastardly attacks it's worth the inconvenience.
I have one final thought on this subject. It concerns hearts and minds. Wars are not just a matter of guns and bombs. We have to focus on why there's a finger on the trigger or detonator in the first place. It's too big a subject for this occasion; however the evil fanatics who perpetrate such atrocities as Bali are said to do them as a result of some deep religious or ideological conviction. It's no good just saying these people are wrong and evil and that for example the Islamic educational curriculum is stuck in the 11th century. We have to do something about it. Difficult to know what, but I would like to suggest that our Christian Church leaders are not doing enough. I am not saying that our modern Church leaders have a crusader mentality to match that of the jihad; however I do think they should take a lead in trying to bridge such spiritual divides. Perhaps they should start that process in Armagh.
Enough of politics. Let's get back to Ed, who I suspect was pretty apolitical although mildly green. The latter I discovered to my chagrin when I invited Ed to come rough shooting in County Wexford around Andrew Healy's Gorey demesne. Reluctantly donning green wellies Ed followed the guns at some safe distance and proceeded to put the mockers on us. Five hours and numerous deep ditch crossings later Ed revelled in the fact the 4 guns' bag was just one miserly half drowned woodcock.
Which conveniently brings me to the next part of my discourse, which is to celebrate Ed's life. Yes we have gathered here to grieve for Ed and to mourn him; however we have another purpose and that is to celebrate and relive a wondrously vibrant life. So what was that life? Most of you know it as well as I, so let's go down memory lane together and be in turn bemused, amused and uplifted.
Ed was born on the 20th July 1976 in St Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, Paddington in the city of London. He was quite a large baby with a full head of dark hair. I think his mother was hoping for a girl to be a sister for Thomas however she was happy enough with the healthy boy fate had delivered.
The next event of significance in Ed's life was his baptism - in Westminster Cathedral on 31st October 1976 performed by Cardinal Basil Hume. His godparents were dear friends of mine, Eileen Frewen and John Lennon, both of whom have been wonderful godparents to Ed and both are here today. Everyone knows that Father Basil was a truly charismatic and holy man. It may be fanciful but I wonder whether on that moving occasion he did not impart some of his own goodness and generosity of heart to the wee bairn he was receiving into the Church. For sure Ed was to have those very qualities in abundance when he grew up.
Ed's infancy and early childhood in London were pretty trouble free thanks to the love and attention of his mother and also PeeWin. PeeWin was a Thai nanny we had imported to look after the children. She was unstinting in her devotion to the little boys, to the extent that for example every grape they ate had to be carefully skinned and depipped. I think PeeWin explains why Ed would be so chronically untidy in later life, since she trotted round behind him faithfully picking up his randomly discarded clothing.
Ed's first significant schooling was his attendance at Westminster Cathedral Choir School which was within walking distance of our Pimlico home. He began to develop some of his later life characteristics. For example a love of sport. I have a vision in my mind of dropping him off at school all neat and tidy and collected. Once through the gate he would set off at high speed for the playground for some quick pre-lessons footie leaving behind in a trail on the ground his satchel and then his had been smart red blazer.
It occurred to me that a London school with its limited sporting facilities was too constrained for Ed. The open spaces of Yorkshire beckoned. However his mother was appalled at the idea of boarding school and exile to the far north. I explained to her that the school was run by monks the same as the monks she was familiar with in Thailand except that they wore black robes instead of yellow ones. That made her feel a bit better about the idea. Anyway we went up to Ampleforth on a reconnaissance.
Everything went swimmingly until we were having lunch with the headmaster, Father Dominic, in the Guest Dining Room. At the end of a nice and convivial lunch Father Dominic lit up his pipe, which prompted Ed to say "Put that out! Smoking is a disgusting habit." Father Dominic took the offensive remark in good heart and the next September Ed would go to Junior House.
It must have been about this time that the Ritz Hotel incident occurred. An Edward birthday was looming, about his 10th if I remember correctly. We asked him what he would like for his birthday. Ed replied with great panache: "Dinner at the Ritz". So off he and I went to have dinner at the Ritz - at the early sitting, the one for the Americans. Anyway we had a splendid and stylish dinner the high point of which was a dimming of the lights and a candlelit procession of waiters bringing the birthday cake to the table singing 'Happy Birthday'. The incredulous Americans put down their knives and forks and started clapping. However the happy grin on Edward's face was soon wiped away as Edward spat out his first bite of the cake- a trifle with a copious quantity of sherry within. "Ugh, Dad it's disgusting, it's full of whisky" he said!
So at the age of 10 Ed went to Ampleforth, starting in the Junior House. I remember his first letter home. It said something like 'I don't know why you've sent me so far away but if that's what you want I suppose I'll have to put up with it. Anyway I have made friends with a boy called Ben who sleeps in the bunk bed below me.' This was Ben Walton, who is one of the very many Amplefordians who have sent in tributes to Ed. In the tribute Ben mentions that Ed was his first friend at JH.
Although Ed's school career had its ups and downs Ed was very happy at Ampleforth. Unlike some he was comfortable with the easy spirituality of the monastic regime. He was able to indulge in his passion for sport and he developed many strong and lasting friendships particularly with many of his own year in St Aidan's House. In fact when some years later he had his 21st Birthday Party in the Dromineer Bay Hotel he was particularly happy that all bar one of his year in Aidan's attended. It is not insignificant that today we have four priests from Ampleforth co-celebrating this mass for him.
I suppose the next significant event in Ed's life was his appointment as Head of House in his last year at JH. I think most commentators at the time would have said that with this appointment the housemaster Father Henry had taken leave of his senses in as much as Ed was not renowned for a love or liking for authority. However after a predictably anarchic beginning to the Ed regime at JH in the end it all worked out quite well because he was genuinely liked and respected and led by example. For Ed the most important thing about being Head of JH was the tradition that at Exhibition he would captain a JH football team taking on the fathers. This match duly took place with the eleven twelve year olds running rings around their overweight and unfit dads. However it all ended in disaster for Ed when one of the fatter of the fathers fell over and landed right on top of Ed who got completely squashed. Winded and bruised he was reluctantly escorted from the field of battle to play no further part in the game. His mother who was watching was horrified, the incident no doubt confirming in her mind that the English were barbaric and mad.
In the upper school Ed continued to enjoy life, a characteristic that was to stay with him as long as he lived wherever he was. I have browsed through his school reports and there is a consistent refrain of what could be described as 'academic under-achievement'. Later on at university a similar tendency could be detected. This was I suspect not from an unwillingness to study and learn but because Ed took on so many other things - friends, sport, to name but two and quite often 'work' suffered. But there was another side to him that was developing and that was his kind, generous and thoughtful personality. Let me quote from his Housemaster's Report for the autumn term of 1993:
"The quality that always springs to my mind as I think of him is his goodness - he is a good person in his generosity, his decency, his honesty and his profound sensitivity to others. All this, of course, makes him very popular with his contemporaries and a great influence for good. There are many boys who owe him a great deal for the time and help he gives them. For that reason, I appointed him Dean of the First Year and at several decisive moments he gave them the advice and encouragement they needed as a group or as individuals. His energies have still been channelled into his two great loves of music and games and he has played some very skilful rugby for both School and House. On the other hand, he does not show the same commitment or interest in his academic work".Ampleforth nurtured Ed's love of sport. He was in the school hockey team and to my delight he developed into quite a fine rugby player. He used to tell people that he was the school's leading try scorer and it may well have been true. The fact that most of his tries were scored against the lesser opponents of the 4th, 3rd and eventually 2nd XVs perhaps lessons the accolade. However I often used to go up to Ampleforth to watch him play in school matches and he was a much better player than most of his peers. He played on the wing then and without being particularly fast he was an elusive runner and a good finisher. His favourite party trick took a leaf out of David Campese's book. He liked to draw his tackler, pop a little grub kick over his head, re-catch the ball and stroll over the line for 5 points! Needless to say the success rate for this was not particularly high but Ed being Ed from time to time he would carry it off with great aplomb.
Despite his evident prowess at rugby Ed probably preferred football although he would never admit that to me. Early on he was, like all kids, a Manchester United fan. However later he saw the light and became a dedicated Chelsea fan. Despite my stubborn support for 'boring'Arsenal , which he laughed at, we went many times together to Stamford Bridge to watch the 'Blues' at work. They were always a delightfully erratic team. One week they could play like champions and see off the mighty clubs like Liverpool, the next they would perform like zombies and get thrashed by the likes of Coventry City or Sheffield Wednesday. Ed relished the absurd inconsistency of his favoured team. Visits to Stamford Bridge were great bonding occasions for father and son.
Ed's under-achieving academically gave us all butterflies when it came to his A-Levels in so much as university selection depended on his grades. Ed had a leaning towards Manchester University; I was steering him towards Trinity. Anyway Ed rose to the occasion and pulled off an unlikely A in Economics giving him sufficient points for Trinity. Frankly I don't think Ed knew the first thing about economics but who cares now.
His four years at Trinity, after a year off in Hong Kong, brought about an incredible flowering of his personality. Whilst at Trinity and living in a series of houses and flats in Dublin culminating in a much loved Temple Bar pad Ed pulled together and fused so many strands of his life. From all the summers he had spent down on the Shannon he already had a large family of friends and relations to which he now added everyone between the age of 18 and 25 in the city who was to be found doing the sort of things that Ed liked ie playing football, rugby, hockey, cricket, tennis, golf or sailing; drinking in certain bars; talking and communicating. Many of you present lived through that time with Ed on a day-to-day basis and your tributes to him on the website re-enact those times so vividly and warmly.
I suppose my contribution to those times was the building of Garanfada House. Ed loved the house. Garanfada House with its accoutrements of the 53 and SILK was and is his spiritual home. It explains why this mass is being celebrated in Carrig Church. Ed was a truly a global person but this was home. The entries in the visitors' books (for there are now two) are a testament to all the good times that were had by so many at the house. You are all welcome to come round and read them to remind yourselves of the many great parties and dinners he organised there and to which so many of you came.
1996, in the middle of Ed's time at Trinity, was the year of SILK2, the BHB41 I bought and campaigned with the help of Gordon Maguire and others. Ed, needless to say, was to play a starring role in the incident that was to make the boat famous. First of all he had to be accepted as part of the crew. I told Gordon not to favour Ed just because he was my son. Anyway Gordon took to Ed and he was soon one of the boys. We had a brilliant campaign, coming 3rd in the Round Ireland Race and then cleaning up at Cork week and Cowes, a unique double. It was on the Tuesday of Cowes week that SILK2 "went down the mine" off the Brambles Bank in the Solent in 50 knots of breeze running with full spinnaker. This nearly successful attempt to pitchpole was caught by Kenneth Beken's camera giving us the dramatic pictures of the event that were widely published. But Ed was the star turn. Tim Jeffrey writing in the Daily Telegraph takes up the story: 'No performance was more spectacular than that by Jocelyn Waller, who managed to turn his son, Ed, into a projectile when his BHB41 SILK2 nosedived near the Brambles Bank. Ed had been minding the foreguy and vang, but let go when the crew screamed out a warning. "The boat went nearly vertical," he recounted "and I went over the side. When I came up, I hit the bottom of the boat. I think she then broached over the top of me and I came up on the other side. I must have gone between the keel and rudder."' So Ed had an earlier brush with death and came out unscathed that time.
Sadly all good things come to an end eventually and so in the early summer of 1999 his finals loomed. Ed made frantic last minute efforts to catch up on all the work he hadn't done, and basically succeeded. I suppose his university career could be summed up as follows: He may have only got a 2:2 in History but he certainly scored a starred first in Friendships.
Because of his 'friends' it took him a long time to actually go down. In effect he spent four months saying goodbye. He finally left in October after one final party at Garanfada House. Ed wanted a sit-down do so numbers were limited to the amount of chairs we had in the house, 24 as it happened. Was it an accident that at that party girls outnumbered boys by about two to one.
There was definitely a Peter Pan dimension to Ed (although in some respects he was remarkably mature and prescient); so he scorned the idea of getting a proper job after university. His idea was to depart eastwards in a gentle parabola that took in Thailand and Hong Kong and ended up in Australia in time for Sydney 2000, which he reckoned would be a good party. In practice it didn't quite work out like that. Phase 1, Thailand, went according to plan. He settled in to Chiengmai, let his mother spoil him, and sent e-mails to the whole world inviting them to come and visit him. As far as I can make out most did and there were certainly many from Ireland who answered the call. However, he then got stuck in Hong Kong by virtue of taking up a 9 to 5 job which must have been a shock to the system. So in the end he never reached Australia and missed the Olympics; however he did get there eventually when he went with a HKFC group to watch the British and Irish Lions in action. I am told the white emblazoned blazers they sported were a sight for sore eyes.
At the end of 2001 he was head hunted for the job with NexisLexis he was doing when he died. He was somewhat incredulous that he survived the selection process - " I had five interviews, Dad", he told me proudly when he'd got the job. By all accounts he was doing very well. Earlier in October he received a Company award for the best sales performance in the summer period.
Ed loved his life in Hong Kong. He had masses of sport. Somehow he managed to play rugby, soccer and hockey simultaneously - most people could only possibly handle one team sport at a time. It was quite a juggling feat especially when you take into account that this season he was captain of the Hong Kong Football Club 'Select' side, also known as the 'Mighty Select'. In Hong Kong Ed reinvented himself as a scrum half, probably on the grounds that wing threequarters are generally starved of the ball and the scrum half's position is more pivotal. Anyway in this connection there is one tribute to Ed from one of his team mates which I would like to read out as I think it captures the zany spirit with which Ed did everything including rugby. It's from someone called Tim Felton. It reads: "Dearest Ed (Captain), I know you are out there and are able to read this - you are an example of what is good in life. Your energy, your wit, your unique running style and of course your dreadful passes to me at flyhalf made our games together a risky yet exciting combination." Ed would have liked that and incidentally would have protested that his passes were inch perfect and the stand-off always out of position!
It's very difficult for us to comprehend that Ed is no longer with us. He was such a larger than life character effortlessly popping in and out of our lives. It's just so difficult to believe that he won't walk in the door of this church and say "Hi fellas! I'm in the Thatched Cottage. Come and join me for a jar." Would that he could but sadly he won't. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and has departed this world.
Before I conclude this discourse with a summing-up of Ed's life and its meaning there are some people I would like to thank.
The first and most important person I want to thank is his mother Nilawan. Thank you Pik for bringing into the world this lovely son we had. Thank you for bringing him up to be such an advertisement for humanity. I know how much you loved him and how terribly you will miss him. I know that his proximity to Thailand in Hong Kong meant you could see him often - when he came for riotous weekends in Chiengmai with half of Hong Kong in tow or when you went to Hong Kong and China and he graciously carried your bag. I know it is so painful to accept that all that is history. But please take comfort from the fact that so many people loved Ed. Those people will never forget you and they will continue to visit Chiengmai. Ed's world will continue to be with you and comfort you for so long as you live.
I would like to thank the priests saying this mass and for their prayers. Thank you Father John and Archdeacon Hogan for letting this mass be held in Carrig, Ed's local church. Thank you Fathers Felix, Bernard, Richard and Francis of Ampleforth Abbey's Benedictine community for being here. A welcome also to the chaplain of Trinity and the Church of Ireland Rector of Nenagh, the latter's presence making this an ecumenical occasion. Given the broad church of Edward's own spirituality he would definitely approve.
Next I would like to thank his brother Tom for all that he has done for his beloved brother. When they were younger there was the usual sibling rivalry. Many times I can remember Tom lamenting, "Edward can be so annoying" and I am sure the complaint was justified. But once they grew up and were launched on their own and different career paths they became very close and shared a lot of close mutual friends, especially those from the Shannon. I know Tom was devastated by the news. He said to me: " I can't believe this Dad. It's so awful. But if it's true we had better give him a good send-off. That's the least we can do for Ed." The website and this occasion and the massive attendance are a testimony to what you have done for your brother. Tom, I love you so much and I am very proud of you.
I would also like to thank our extended family for their support, help and love in this painful time. Here I want to put in a special word for my own loving parents and Ed's paternal grandparents, Hardress and Lygia. I can remember when Granny was known by Edward as 'Eat up! Eat up!' presumably a reference to being forced to eat some unpalatable food that hadn't been meticulously prepared by PeeWin. Seriously they adored Ed and he was a wonderful grandson to them especially in his Trinity days when he used to pitch up at Rynskaheen in the battered Honda with half the Trinity hockey team plus Sparky and cheerfully start cooking a meal for ten. Daddy and Mummy I know you will miss him terribly but be consoled by the fact that he adored you too.
Here I would like to include a special thank you to my companion Mary who loved Ed like one of her own and has consoled me in my grief.
I would also like to thank Ann Day and Fidelma Tierney for the beautiful flower arrangement in this Church. As most of you know Ann and Tom lost a loved son Philip less than two years ago. This deeply affected Ed. The Waller boys and the Day boys had grown up in parallel and our families are close. On hearing the news about Philip Ed, who was in Hong Kong at the time, immediately made arrangements to fly back to Ireland. Unfortunately he was too late arriving to attend Philip's funeral; however he then spent two days staying with the Days in their home in Killiney to help them cope with their loss. It was just typical of Ed.
Finally I want to thank you, all of you, individually and collectively for being Ed's world. It's wonderful for us to have so many of you here to share this occasion. There are people here from far and wide, from Australia, Hong Kong, USA, Spain, many from the UK and of course a vast home team. Thank you for your tributes. Thank you for your letters. Thank you for your e-mails. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for the masses for Ed. Thank you for your condolences. The reaction to Ed's terrible fate has been spontaneous and extraordinary. We, his immediate family, are overwhelmed by it and deeply moved. Thank you.
There is no such thing as one-sided love. Love is a two way stretch. Ed loved you and you loved Ed. That's the way it was and I am sure that's the way it will stay.
To conclude I would like to say to you that although Ed's life was short it was a real life, a complete life, a worthwhile life. One day all of us will join Ed in the ranks of the departed and the perspectives of our lives will merge and overlap. It is quality of life rather than length of life that counts. I believe Ed's life was one of the highest quality - the tributes on the website are a moving testimony to that. Let us be inspired by Ed's life and memory to be better human beings.
26 October 2002