Funeral takes place of Niall Lyttle who died after fall from Belfast 'party bike'
MOURNERS at the funeral of a young man who died after becoming ill while on a 'party bike' have heard how he "faced life with courage and strength of character".
Niall Lyttle (19) from Glengormley was remembered today as someone who "made great friends where ever he went" as hundreds of people gathered for Requiem Mass at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley.
Priest Fr Pat Sheehan told mourners it was the third tragedy to hit the family following the deaths of Mr Lyttle's father and brother – with all three men believed to have suffered from heart conditions.
The teenager passed away on Sunday, four days after becoming ill on a 'party bike' tour and falling from the multi-seat vehicle in Belfast city centre.
He had been on a team-building event when it happened in the Amelia Street area.
Fr Sheehan described the young man's death as a "terrible and heartbreaking tragedy", particularly for his mother Sharon.
"We cannot imagine what you are going through having lost first Ryan, then Neil and now Niall," he said.
"There's not a person who has heard of this tragedy whose heart does not break for you as a wife and a mother."
The priest told mourners of how Mr Lyttle had been diagnosed with a heart condition in 2010, but "faced life with courage and strength of character".
"While he did not get the chance to live long in this life – how he lived it gained immense respect and admiration," said Fr Sheehan.
"He overcame a tragedy as a young boy with the death of his big brother Ryan who was only 13.
"Then one year later the death of his dad who died on his 40th birthday.
"How that young boy coped with that, only God knows."
Mr Lyttle was a popular member of the East Coast Blaze inline hockey team who described him as "kind, hard-working and courageous".
Fr Sheehan told mourners that following the teenager's heart condition diagnosis, he was unable to play, but as always, he had "turned disappointment into new opportunities".
"He was a valued and respected member of that team...and became Northern Ireland's first inline hockey referee," he said.
The priest said the young man also worked hard at school and gained a place at Ulster University where he was "just beginning to blossom".
He said Mr Lyttle "made great friends wherever he went" and was taking part in a "peer mentor" event when he took ill.
"Let's make it clear he was not drinking on that night," Fr Sheehan said.
"Sadly, suddenly and tragically his heart failed and he fell to the ground.
"Niall's final memory on earth was filled with building friendships, enjoying life and bringing joy to others."