Man who was inspired to change his life dies in car crash with wife
Man who was inspired to change his life by The Alchemist tragically dies in a car crash with the wife he met after making a new start in the US in a ‘heartbreaking end to their love story’
- Marire Ivanna O’Reilly, lost her brother JohnJohn Heneghan, 33, from Co Mayo
- He was killed in road crash with his wife Caitlin Holtzman, 32, from Pennsylvania
- Died after suspected drunk driver collided with their car in New York on May 25
- She spoke in their eulogy, describing ‘love story’ as having ‘heartbreaking end’
A woman who tragically lost her brother and his American wife following a car crash in the US has spoken out about the ‘heartbreaking end’ to their ‘love story.’
JohnJohn Heneghan, 33, from Tourmakeady, Co Mayo, and Caitlin Holtzman, 32, from Pennsylvania, died after a suspected drunk driver collided with their car as they drove to a friend’s wedding near Albany, in New York State, on May 25.
As hundreds of mourners attended a memorial Mass celebrating their lives on Sunday, John’s sister Maire Ivanna O’Reilly gave an emotional reading.
‘While it breaks our hearts to lose JohnJohn so unexpectedly, that he was living his dream, that he was happy, that he was in love and so deeply loved in return, that they are now together forever,’ she said in the eulogy, according to The Irish Independent, adding it was a ‘heartbreaking end’ to their ‘love story.’
JohnJohn Heneghan, 33, from Tourmakeady, Co Mayo, and Caitlin Holtzman, 32, from Pennsylvania (both pictured on their wedding day) died after a suspected drunk driver collided with their car as they drove to a friend’s wedding near Albany, in New York, on May 25
Construction worker JohnJohn met wife Caitlin, who owned her own media company, Mediablage, in a bar in New York, while they were both out celebrating St Patrick’s Day – before tying the knot in 2015
At the emotional funeral, Maire explained to those in attendance that when JohnJohn was a young boy, their late mother Mona gave him a copy of ‘The Alchemist.’
The book focuses on a shepherd named Santiago who had a dream that he would find treasure if he were to travel to a land far away.
She went on to explain that when JohnJohn lost his mother nine years ago, the plot of the novel helped him deal with his grief.
What is The Alchemist?
The Alchemist by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho was first published in 1988 in Portuguese.
It follows an Andalusian shepherd boy called Santiago, who travels to the pyramids of Egypt, in the hope of finding treasure.
The people he meets impart life-changing wisdom, but he ultimately realises that the treasure was right where he started all along.
The novel, which was written in just two weeks, has sold more than 65 million copies and has topped bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide.
Famous fans include Madonna, Will Smith, Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey.
Realising he needed change, he eventually headed to New York where he started working in construction.
There, he met his future wife Caitlin, who owned her own media company, Mediablage, in a bar in New York, while they were both out celebrating St Patrick’s Day.
They then tied the knot in Ballintubber Abbey in Co Mayo in 2015 and moved to Manhattan so they could be together.
‘Caitlin was JohnJohn’s treasure, of that I am sure,’ Maire said. ‘They were beautiful people in their own right but together they were really a beautiful couple.’
‘Their sparkling eyes, their bright smiles, their warmth, their love, their charisma. The energy they possessed and exuded became inextinguishable.’
During the touching tribute, Maire thanked the duo for allowing her and their loved ones to be a part of their beautiful love story.
She then went on to praise Caitlin’s parents Donald and Claudia Holtzman for bringing such a perfect daughter into the world and for allowing her remains to be laid to rest beside her husband in Tourmakeady.
Speaking of her brother and his wife, an emotional Maire said: ‘Caitlin was JohnJohn’s treasure, of that I am sure. They were beautiful people in their own right but together they were really a beautiful couple.’ Pictured, JohnJohn and Caitlin
Maire Ivanna O’Reilly paid an emotional tribute to her brother and his American wife Caitlin (pictured) in her eulogy. She spoke of the book ‘The Alchemist’ that her brother read to help with the loss of his mother’s death
Maire thanked the duo (pictured) for allowing all those in attendance to be part of their beautiful story. JohnJohn and Caitlin met on St Patrick’s Day
The families of JohnJohn and Caitlin asked for donations to be made to the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dún Laoghaire, instead of gifting flowers
The Mass took place in St Mary’s Church in Tourmakeady on Sunday – with the couple’s loved ones travelling from Ireland, America and Austria to attend the service.
JohnJohn’s father Tom led the proceedings, while his devastated siblings, Orla, Olga, Maire Ivanna and Michael, as well as Caitlin’s parents were also in attendance.
It is believed the couple’s remains were buried during a private ceremony which took place on Monday.
Both families have asked for donations to be made to the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dún Laoghaire rather than gifting flowers.
Maire also thanked Caitlin’s parents Donald and Claudia Holtzman for bringing their perfect daughter (pictured) into the world
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