Devastated Grand National-winning trainer Henry de Bromhead leads tributes to his son at heartbreaking funeral days after ‘charming and charismatic’ teen jockey was killed in fall at Irish racing festival

  • Jack de Bromhead, 13, died after being thrown from his horse at Glenbeigh Racing Festival in County Kerry
  • Today his heartbroken family were joined by hundreds of mourners at church in Butlerstown for funeral
  • Jack’s father, trainer Henry de Bromhead, paid tribute to his ‘charming’ son in an emotional eulogy

Grand National-winning trainer Henry de Bromhead today paid tribute to his ‘charming and charismatic’ son during an emotional funeral service after the teenager died during a pony race at the weekend. 

Jack de Bromhead, 13, suffered fatal injuries after being thrown from his horse at the Glenbeigh Racing Festival in County Kerry on Saturday.

Today, his heartbroken family were joined by hundreds of mourners – including Jack’s friends from school and horse racing – at the The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Butlerstown, County Waterford, for the teenager’s funeral.

Jack’s devastated father carried his 13-year-old son’s coffin into the church where he paid tribute to the ‘charming and charismatic’ teenager.

In an emotional speech, the grieving father told mourners: ‘I just ask any of you, whoever you love, make sure you tell them.’ 

Jack’s grandfather said the tragic accident, at which he and his wife Marian were present, saw their hopes and dreams for their ‘beautiful’ grandson ‘shattered forever’. 

Andrew Moffatt said that his grandson died after being thrown from his horse at the Glenbeigh Festival in Co Kerry and in an instant, the animal ‘delivered a fateful blow to Jack’s head’. 

Jack’s devastated father carried his 13-year-old son’s coffin into the church where he paid tribute to the ‘charming and charismatic’ teenager

Three tractors precede the hearse carrying the coffin of Jack de Bromhead, making their way to The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as mourners line up along the streets

Mourners gather for the funeral for Jack de Bromhead at The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Butlerstown, County Waterford, on Wednesday 

Jack de Bromhead, 13, suffered fatal injuries after being thrown from his horse at the Glenbeigh Racing Festival in County Kerry on Saturday. Jack is pictured here at Cahersiveen Pony Races on August 28

Jack’s death caused widespread shock among the Irish racing community.

Large crowds gathered outside the church ahead of the ceremony on Wednesday, including prominent jockeys and trainers, while thousands more watched online.

Representatives of Taoiseach Micheal Martin and President Michael D Higgins were also present.

Trainer Charlie Swan and jockey Robbie Power were among the hundreds of early attendees, while jockeys Barry Geraghty and Davey Russell were also present.

A guard of honour of students from Waterpark College lined up outside the church, organised by Grand National champion jockey Rachel Blackmore, with young mourners dressed in racing silks and boots.

One girl was seen holding a teddy pony and the funeral programme while waiting outside the church.

There was a heavy downpour as the wicker coffin was carried from the hearse into the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During the eulogy, Mr de Bromhead thanked everyone for their support, saying ‘every person we meet gives you a little bit more strength’.

With his wife Heather at his side, he spoke about their son’s love of surfing in Tramore, of farming and driving tractors, of showjumping and of hunting – having once won a hunting horn blowing competition.

Mr de Bromhead told the congregation stories of Jack’s ‘uncanny’ knowledge of and love for pony racing that he was ‘blown away by’. 

Henry de Bromhead with his wife Heather and their two daughters, leave the church after the funeral service of Jack

Jockey Davy Russell (right), leaves the church after the funeral service of Jack while other mourners wipe tears from their eyes

Young jockeys form a guard of honour, after the funeral service for Jack de Bromhead

One girl was seen holding a teddy pony and the funeral programme while waiting outside the church

Large crowds gathered outside the church ahead of the ceremony on Wednesday, including prominent jockeys and trainers, while thousands more watched online

Recounting a conversation he had with his son after a fall during a pony race, he told how the youngster had told him: ‘Dad, I just love pony racing, it is unbelievable, I get such a buzz out of it.’

Mr de Bromhead said: ‘And he did, you could see it, and this was after a fall. It was incredible. He loved it.

‘I said ‘what about the fall, would that put you off a little?’ and he said ‘Hen boy, if you can’t take the falls, you can’t be doing it’. What can you say?’

During a conversation he had with his own mother Sally about Jack months ago, Mr de Bromhead said: ‘I was saying about school and he’s missing the odd class or whatever, and she said ‘Darling, Jack just doesn’t really have time for school’.’

Mr de Bromhead said this tragedy has highlighted how important it is to tell people you love them.   

He explained: ‘One of the greatest comforts Heather and I have now in his passing is he knows how much we loved him. I just ask any of you, whoever you love, make sure you tell them.

‘If something like this happens to you, something so tragic as it is, happens to you, it’s a great comfort. If you could take that away with you, we would really appreciate it.’

He finished his eulogy by echoing the words Jack said to his parents every night: ‘Night, mum. Night dad, love you.’ 

In an emotional speech, the grieving father told mourners: ‘I just ask any of you, whoever you love, make sure you tell them.’ Pictured: Jack’s father and mother (centre) leave the church with their two daughters

Members of Henry de Bromhead staff arrives for the funeral for Jack de Bromhead

Jockeys Davy Russell (left) and Barry Geraghty, leave the church following the emotional funeral service for Jack 

A guard of honour of students from Waterpark College lined up outside the church

The coffin of Jack de Bromhead leaves The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Butlerstown after his funeral service

His grandfather Andrew Moffat told of Jack’s interest in diggers and driving tractors from an early age, and his newfound nicknames for him ‘grandy boy’; and his father, ‘Hen boy’.

He said ‘his interest in tractors and trailers increased at every opportunity’, and he also recounted stories of Jack’s humour and sense of adventure.

Mr Moffat said the tragic accident, at which he and his wife Marian were present, saw ‘all our hopes and dreams for our beautiful, charming, charismatic, wonderful Jack shattered forever in the fateful riding accident in the dark, murky Atlantic waters washing on to Rossbeigh beach’.

He added: ‘His horse came down, Jack was thrown, and in an instant, the horse delivered a fateful blow to Jack’s head.

‘Our 13 years with our beloved Jack will never be forgotten by his family and all our friends and colleagues, who knew the happiest, loving child you could ever hope for.’

Jack’s younger sister Georgia paid tribute to her brother during the ceremony, saying he ‘was the kindest, most caring big brother I could ever ask for’.

She added: ‘He was never scared to stand up for people and was always there for you no matter what.’

His twin sister Mia said in a heartfelt tribute: ‘Jack, you were the best brother ever, I got so lucky when you were born with me.

‘I will miss your cheeky smile that made all my friends fall in love with you.’

Large crowds gathered outside the church ahead of the ceremony on Wednesday, including prominent jockeys and trainers, while thousands more watched online. Pictured: Henry de Bromhead (left), father of Jack de Bromhead carries his son coffin after the funeral service

Jockey Barry Geraghty arrives for the funeral for Jack de Bromhead at the church 

Jack’s grandmother Sally de Bromhead read an extract from the author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy.

Among the symbols of Jack’s life brought to the church were a horse riding whip, goggles, a rugby ball, Ralph Lauren togs, a hunting horn, and a pair of Nike runners.

A hunting horn was played as the hearse pulled away from the church.

Parish priest Pat Fitzgerald said of Jack during the ceremony: ‘He knew himself to be loved and he reciprocated in a multitude of ways. In this sense, there was a kind of completeness and perfection to his life.

‘As we heard in our reading from the Book of Wisdom, length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years the true measure of life. In a real way, Jack absorbed and lived the essence of life.’

Henry de Bromhead is one of the most successful trainers on the National Hunt circuit. Last year the trainer dominated the Cheltenham Festival and won the Aintree Grand National.

Pictured is Jack speaking with his father at Cahersiveen Pony Races on August 28

He became the first trainer ever to saddle winners of the Champion Hurdle (Honeysuckle), Champion Chase (Put The Kettle On) and Gold Cup (Minella Indo) in the same year.

Rachael Blackmore, his star jockey, has been integral to all the recent success as well.

The 33-year-old became the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle and Grand National in 2021 and followed up those brilliant displays this year, becoming the first woman to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup with A Plus Tard.

Henry followed in the footsteps of his father Harry after spurning a career in accountancy and taking over the family stables in Knockeen in County Waterford in 2000.

Tributes were paid on Saturday night to Jack de Bromhead, who was a talented young jockey in his own right.

‘The whole place is in a state of shock. It’s such a terrible thing,’ said local councillor Michael Cahill. ‘Our sympathies go out to the family. I saw him ride in Cahersiveen only last week. This is awful.

‘It’s put a cloud of sadness over our meeting forever. People are here with tears rolling down their faces. This is always a happy, joyous, family festival. Within a short few hours everything has changed. It’s impacting on everyone.’

Distressing scenes were reported as news of the tragedy unfolded. The festival attracts Ireland’s leading pony competitors, including the country’s top teenage jockeys.

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