Tributes to 'beautiful' and 'special' young model Mairead O'Neill (21) following sudden death

Model Mairead O'Neill from Belfast died on Monday aged 21
Marie Louise McConville

A YOUNG model from Belfast who died suddenly "just could not get over living without her mother", a family friend has said.

Mairead Leigha O'Neill, who was from the Market area of the city, died on Monday at the age of 21.

Police say they are not treating the death as suspicious.

Mairead's sudden death comes less than a year after she lost her mother Karen Pelan to cancer.

The 21 year-old, who recently graduated from university, had recently worked at Belfast Fashion Week and the Carl Frampton fight in Belfast.

Tributes have been paid to Mairead Leigha O'Neill, who died suddenly on Monday night

Posting on Facebook friends paid tribute as they spoke of their shock at her sudden death.

One friend said Mairead was "beautiful inside and out".

"Knew and loved by so many. Knew you for a short time but always put a smile on my face u always made me laugh...I’m so sorry u were so lost heart - breaks that you had no other way out wish you cud (sic) see how much you were loved..."

Another tribute read: "To good for this world. Words cannot describe the heartache u have left behind. Back in the arms of ur beautiful mummy.".

A fundraising page was set up yesterday to help support her family and cover the funeral costs.

An initial target of £4,000 was reached within just two hours of the page being opened with the total passing £6,000 last night.

A post on the GoFundMe fundraising page said that Mairead was survived by her brother and sister.

Appealing for help to cover the funeral costs the post from a family friend read:

"As their mummy's friend I'm hopeless as to what I can do, so I'm hoping that with people's help we can make it a tiny bit easier on them. Such a beautiful child that just could not get over living without her mother. No-one knows what a day can bring so please if you can, let's help ease this burden.

"Thank you all for taking time to read this for anyone but extra hard for two siblings that are already grieving and missing the rock of their family. They have went from a family of four to a family of two in just 10 short months."

Donations can be made at

Requiem Mass for Mairead will take place on Friday at 1pm at St Malachy's Church followed by a service at Roselawn Crematorium will take place at 3pm.

***Anyone in need can contact the Samaritans on 116 113 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000

Model Mairead O'Neill

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