Northern Ireland news

Conall McAleer funeral: Priest says grand-nephew leaves a 'treasury of love'

Mourners at St Joseph's Church in Ederney, Co Fermanagh, attending the funeral of Conall McAleer, left, who died in a car crash in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Picture by Justin Kernoghan

A PRIEST has poignantly paid tribute to his grand-nephew who died in a car crash double-tragedy as a "bright, happy young man" who has "left behind him a treasury of love".

Mourners gathered at St Joseph's Church in Ederney, Co Fermanagh yesterday for the funeral of 20-year-old Conall McAleer.

He died on Sunday in a collision in Co Donegal which also claimed the life of his friend, mother-of-one Shiva Devine (20), whose funeral was held on Tuesday in Ballintra.

Three others were seriously injured in the Bundoran crash. A sixth occupant of the car, a man in his twenties, was arrested after handing himself in to gardaí and was later released without charge.

His voice breaking with emotion, Canon Joseph Mullin told mourners it was a "deeply tragic day" and he was "stunned and so upset" when he learned of his grand-nephew's death.

"Conall was full of hope and joy about life but has left behind him a treasury of love," he said.

"The best tribute we can pay to this fine young man, the big heart, the brother who looked out for his sisters, the brother who looked after his parents, the best tribute is to share his legacy of love and give it to those who most need it.

"A few days ago when a bright happy young man goes off with his friends and tragedy is the last thing on anyone's mind."

Canon Mullin described Mr McAleer, from Boa Island, as a talented footballer with St Joseph's GAA club in Ederney who loved cars and tractors, and had recently qualified as an electrician.

"His life was on the verge of new beginnings and plans. But suddenly and sadly those plans were not to be," he said.

A family photograph, a pair of wellies and a piece of electrical equipment were among the gifts brought to the altar as symbols of his life.

His parents Brian and Jackie, and sisters Niamh, Tara, Sadhbh and Torai, flanked his coffin as it was brought into the church for Requiem Mass.

Pupils from St Michael's, Mount Lourdes and St Fanchea's schools in Enniskillen, and St Joseph's GAA club in Ederney, formed guards of honour as he was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

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