Irish wakes are famous world-wide for the moments of joy and the senses of community and indomitable spirit they bring to otherwise solemn occasions.
If you’ve never been to an Irish wake, or if you were looking for first-hand proof of their greatness, look no further than this video of the wake for Ger “Farmer” Foley in Killorglin, Co. Kerry.
In March, Ger tragically lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis at just 45 years of age, leaving behind a wife, two young children, and a town full of friends and family members who are devastated by his loss.
After the funeral, many of them gathered at Falvey’s Pub to raise a pint in Ger’s memory, and, as is customary at many Irish wakes, a few songs were sung in his honor.
When Brian O’Sullivan led the crowd in a lively rendition of “Mr. Brightside,” by The Killers, which is something of a New Year’s tradition in Falveys, little did he think that a video of him would go viral or that the song’s creators would be reaching out to him online in a day’s time.
“If Brandon ever needs a fill-in, we’re calling you!” they wrote on Twitter, referring to frontman Brandon Flowers. “May we all have friends like this.”
O’Sullivan was absolutely floored by the response to his rendition, but in an interview with Irish radio station Today FM he emphasized that the night was about Ger Foley.
"There were beautiful singers there all night, an explosion of life and the songs he would have loved growing up so I thought Mr Brightside would be a great tribute to him," he said.
"When I stood up on that bar I wasn't standing up for people in America or Australia or in the world, I was standing up for Farmer. That was my tribute to him. Going global is fantastic but it's about Ger and CF and not Brian O'Sullivan," he added.
Talking about how Ger had received a crucial lung transplant in 2003, which gave him time to start a family, O’Sullivan encouraged people to make sure they are registered as organ donors.
"Without Ger getting a transplant back in 2003, a double lung transplant, there would be no Isabel and Peter. That's his legacy and getting that into people's heads - people can save lives by running into a building or whatever but people can save people's lives by just carrying a donor card. That's so important. Ger's legacy lives on because of a donor card."
* Originally published in July 2016.