Coming back from Glasnevin cemetery during the week I drove down East Wall Road towards Dublin Port. There were a number of Garda cars parked on the road, flashing blue lights, and part of the road was coned off. I expected to be stopped and asked “What’s the purpose of your journey sir?” by a friendly, if frozen Garda. But in fact, this wasn’t a traffic check, but the scene of a murder. A crowd of sombre looking teenaged boys were standing by a wall, bunches of flowers marked the spot where their young friend had breathed his last, stabbed to death in an altercation over a stolen bike. I’d heard the news flash during the previous evening and seen the picture on the media of Josh Dunne wearing his Bohs kit in full flight, demonstrating his expertise at football. The tributes were heartfelt and expressed appreciation for his many talents and deep regret that he died in this way.

I couldn’t but feel for these teenagers, feel the depth of their loss, and at the same time hardly comprehend the terrible pain that his family woke to this morning and will carry for ever. For a moment, I thought of stopping and getting out and offering to share a prayer with them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. I’d just come from a grave and had spent the morning accompanying another family in their loss, and there has been a lot of loss locally during the past 10 days with multiple funerals. But I drove on, made a quiet, private prayer, asked Mary of Sorrows, Queen of Peace to bring grace to them all, to help them face loss, not to lose hope.

I doubt if any of them carry a knife or understand the darkness inside the person who stabs another. Violence is another pandemic that we have to struggle with in life and we all have a part to play in making the world a safer place. Please remember Josh, his family and friends in your prayers this weekend.