Ed Waller Tribute

Joe Hughes leads the procession
 

Carrig Church 26/10/2002

 

A special farewell to a special person

Wednesday October 30th 2002
By Gerry Slevin

Shortly after three of clock on Saturday afternoon, a packed congregation in Carrig Church, Ballycommon saw a young man exit from the sacristy. Facing the congregation, Stephen Bentley-Klein settled himself, raised his violin to his left shoulder, drew the bow across its strings and began to play.

It was a piece specially composed and dedicated to the 9/11 atrocity. Now, it was arranged as a tribute to all the victims of yet another terrorist bombing, one that killed nearly two hundred people revelling in the Sari nightclub in Kuta on the island of Bali on October 12th.

Others lost their lives that night too, people in the wrong place at the wrong time, like the group of rugby players from Hong Kong who, in a fleet of taxis pulled up at the nightclub just as the bomb was going off. Eight occupants died.

That Bali atrocity reverberated throughout the world and all the way to the shores of Lough Derg, because one of the passengers in one of the ill fated taxis had roots so deeply embedded in the North Tipperary soil, where his grandparents live, that despite his own English nationality, it was deemed appropriate that Carrig Church be the venue for the Requiem Mass on Saturday when family, friends and acquaintainces travelled from Australia, the United States, Hong Kong, Spain, Britain and all over Ireland.

Ed Waller was only twenty six when he died. Edward de Warrenne Waller to give him his full and correct name, the name formally bestowed on him by the late Cardinal Basil Hume when he baptised him in Westminster Cathedral on October 31st 1976.

Ed, a young man so full of life, as illustrated so well in the tributes that flowed throughout the two hour ceremony.

NOSTALGIC TALES

People laughed and cried as nostalgic tales of a young man with so many commendable characteristics were recalled during a ceremony that was laden with musical interludes of many and varied assortments, from Plain Chant to Bruckner, from Rachmaninov to U2, all so brilliantly and evocatively performed in the main by people who knew Ed and who were part of his busy and active life.

Four of the seven Mass con-celebrants were members of the Benedictine order, from Ampleforth in the north of England,where Ed underwent his second level education. They included the chief celebrant, Dom Felix Stephens and Ed's housemaster at Ampleforth Dom Bernard Green, who delivered the homily. They also sang the 'Requiem Aeternam', the 'Kyrie eleison' etc, those haunting Plain Chant pieces, so beloved by so many, but alas, so neglected in today's changing approach to the promotion of religious observance.

The Mornington Singers were there too, conducted by Rosemary Collier and their numbers included some motets exquisitely rendered during the distribution of Holy Communion.

Stephen Bentley-Klein was a busy young man during the ceremony. Along with providing the opening piece, he joined with Ed's cousin, Damian Katkhuda (guitar) in a piece composed by Damian and rendered after the homily. Stephen also performed a farewell piece, again on the violin, and during the presentation of the gifts at the Offertory, he changed to a muted trumpet to perform 'Samui Sunset' before reverting again to the violin for a piece entitled 'Butterfly'

DEGREE IN HISTORY

The chaplain of Trinity College in Dublin, where Ed. was conferred with a degree in History was also a concelebrant, as were Fr John Slattery, P.P. Puckane and Archdeacon John F. Hogan.

Fr Slattery formally welcomed everyone, especially the Waller family and all who had travelled long distances to join in showing support for the Waller family on this sad occasion. On behalf of the local community, Fr Slattery conveyed its sincerest sympathy to the Waller family.

Nenagh Church of Ireland rector. Revd Sidney Morant was also on the altar and he read one of the Prayers of the Faithful.

Lessons were read by Ed's godfather John Lennon and his sole sibling, brother Tom with Fr Slattery reading the Gospel.

The Presentation of the Gifts at the Offertory was made by Ed's mother Nilawan. his grandmother Lygia and his godmother Eileen Frewen, the gifts including a rugby ball and Ed's number nine jersey, which had been brought from Bali and Hong Kong.

Chief con-celebrant, Dom Felix Stephens recalled that Edward Waller was murdered in Bali; Jesus Christ was murdered in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ was alive and well, our saviour; Edward Waller was alive in the glory of God, saved by Jesus Christ.

They were now meeting in the most tragic of circumstances, gathered to pay tribute to Ed and to be in contact with Ed's family and friends. All were part of Ed's life in some way, through his schools, university, the Shannon-side community, the Hong Kong community, a large disparate gathering worthy of a charismatic, generous, radiant personality so cruelly cut down by terrorists.

BUDDHIST RELIGION

Dom Felix said that while this was a solemn Catholic occasion, they were also conscious of the Buddhist religion of Ed's mother and while they now prayed, they should remember those Buddhists communities and people of Buddhist tradition that had been at prayer in Shanghai and in Thailand.

Nor should they forget the generosity of his mother, Nilawan, in granting Ed his Catholic faith. They should also reflect on the fact that it was Ed's great grandmother, Kira Banasinska, a Polish lady who in the second World War saved many from death and persecution, who brought Catholicism to the family. She died in May of this year at the age of 102 years .

Dom Felix also spoke of his own long-standing friendship with Ed's father, Jocelyn and the presence among them of Ed's paternal grand parents, Hardress and Lygia Waller. The Catholic monks of Amplefort Abbey had also been a bedrock to two generations of the Waller family as reflected in the presence of four of their number at this Mass.

The local clergy, Fr Slattery and Archdeacon Hogan were with them too as well as the Church of Ireland rector, Revd Sidney Morant

There were present too representatives of all the years of Ed's life. including Hong Kong, from where he set out on that fateful last journey to enjoy the experience of sport in the company of his friends. Perhaps, that rugby shirt and ball would be viewed as the most poignant and tangible part of the ceremony, without a body to see and touch.

GODFATHER'S TRIBUTE

Having read the first Lesson, Ed's godfather, John Lennon took the opportunity to speak on behalf of all present to the spirit of Edward Waller. From the day he along with Edward's godmother Eileen Frewen had stood for him while being baptised in Westminster Cathedral, he had given to many, countless moments of priceless pleasure and which were held in imperishable pride.

For those memories they were profoundly grateful and to some extent consoled in that memories can bring us roses in December.

He spoke of a particular memory, the celebration of his 21st birthday in the Clubhouse of his favourite Sailing Club in Dromineer. On that night he was as a prince among men and in his most outlandish dreams, he could never have dreamt that it would be his duty to stand there now and have to say, "goodnight, sweet prince, may flights of angels guide you to thy rest. You were loved because you were lovable, you were admired because you were admirable, you will never be forgotten because you were memorable'.

For his homily Dom Bernard took up the theme of the Mass Gospel, the Ressurection, and the promise of all being re-united again.

In his eulogy, Jocelyn Waller said that piecing together the circumstantial evidence, it seemed that Ed and his colleagues, friends from Hong Kong football club were in the process of arriving in a cavalcade of taxis when the bomb went off right beside them. Death must have been instantaneous. His body was not available, and possibly it never would be. Eight members of the Hong Kong football club were murdered that night and six of the bodies had not yet been identified.

One thing he was sure of was, that if there was any possibility of Ed surviving the blast, he would have had every chance.

EVERYTHING POSSIBLE

He paid tribute to friends from Hong Kong who dropped everything to be available and to do everything humanly possible to find and retrieve him, also Ed's employers, a Hong Kong law firm whose human resources personnel showed great concern and refused to give up hope for his survival.

Jocelyn then went on to refer to what he described as his 'sad task to reflect on and commemorate Ed's short but vital life'.

It was made both harder and easier by the incredible messages of sympathy and tributes that had flooded the website which had been set up. There were 559 at the last count and still coming in. It was all there, his whole world and what that world thought of Ed. Shakespeare himself, he added, could hardly have written such a poignant book of memories.

Ed, he said, was one who saw no reason why the world should not be a joyous place. Age, colour, race, religion were never bars in Ed's world. He had an innate sense of fairness and if he thought something was wrong, was unfair, he would not hesitate to say so.

His tragic death in a predmeditated slaughter of innocents had brought international terrorism into North Tipperary or wherever we live. If we cared about people like Ed, then we were involved. Whether we liked it or not, we could not be indifferent, we could not sit on the sidelines anymore.

"The bomb that killed Ed and nearly two hundred others like him was a deadly concoction of amonia and nitrate explosive, straight out of the IRA bombers manual. This terrible affliction is right in our midst but if we want to have a knee-jerk reaction to this and lash out indiscriminately, it must be a measured. It has to be measured and focused response". he said.

Ed's father then went on to read from an issue of the International Herald Tribune of that week, an article about Ed by his own great friend and mentor, the renowned journalist and commentator Philip Bowring, who also knew Ed and loved him.

After that, he detailed his life, recalling many incidents in regard to his upbringing, his schooling, his great love of sport, especially rugby, hockey, sailing and football. changing his initial allegiance from Manchester United to Chelsea, his magnetism which attracted people to him all the time.

MOTHER THANKED

He concluded by thanking Ed's mother, Nilawan, for bringing him into the world and for bringing him up. He thanked everyone who had been of such great support since the bombing, the celebrant priests, all Eds friends, his own parents.

"The reaction to Ed's terrible fate has been spontaneous and extraordinary. We, his immediate family, are overwhelmed by it. 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. It is the quality of life rather than the length of life that counts. Ed's was of the highest quality and the tributes on the website are testimony to that. Let us be inspired by Ed's life, to be better human beings" he concluded.

Hardress Waller

Towards the end of the ceremony, Ed's 85 year old grandfather, Hardress Waller made his way to the pulpit with his grandson Tom and there he described Ed as special. Wherever he was, you could expect him to be the centre of a good party. With unquenchable energy, he radiated generosity, kindness, fun, laughter and sheer love of life.

Everybody loved Ed and Ed loved everybody but most of all he loved his mother and his father who both adored him in return.

Everywhere Ed went, and Ed went everywhere, he took with him the feel good factor and he bestowed it on all around him.

"Oh yes, Ed was special and now he is gone from us aged only twenty six."

"What a waste!", he concluded.

U2 NUMBERS

Ed's own music preference was reflected in two U2 numbers. "One" led by guitarists Ben Huskinson and Andrew Tierney, was followed after the Final Blessing with "With or Without You", the recorded version with Bono in lead vocals and the congregation joining in.

Afterwards, refreshments were served in the Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer.

In his cubicle at the Hong Kong law firm where Ed Waller was employed last year, hanging up was a quotation from the autobiography of round-the-world yachtsman Peter Goss. It read:

"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"