Northern Ireland news

Family left heartbroken following sudden death of popular west Belfast teen (19)

Declan Cavanagh died suddenly in the early hours of Tuesday
Marie Louise McConville

THE family of a popular west Belfast teenager have told of their heartbreak following his sudden death.

Declan Cavanagh, who was 19, was found at his home in the Summerhill Grange area of Twinbrook in the early hours of Tuesday.

He had died by suicide.

Just hours earlier the talented footballer had played with his younger sister on her trampoline before leaving the family home to enjoy a night out with friends.

A former pupil of St Colm's High School, Declan had gone on to train as a barber before working as a floor layer.

He was well known in west Belfast within the football community having played for a number of teams over the years including Celtic Boys.

Speaking to The Irish News yesterday, Declan's uncle Terry Cavanagh said his sudden death had left the family "just heartbroken".

Declan Cavanagh as a young player for Celtic Boys

Mr Cavanagh described his nephew, who had been due to enjoy his first holiday with his girlfriend to Santa Ponsa this summer, as someone who was "so happy".

"He was a normal 19-year-old who got up and went to his work every morning," he said.

"He loved life. His wee sister, he loved her, idolised her.

"He would never walk past you in the street - he would always lift his head. He was very friendly. He was bubbly, he loved talking. He loved his music - he was also into DJ-ing. Every single time I saw him, he had a smile on his face."

Mr Cavanagh said the teenager's sudden death had "broken our hearts".

"It's a big loss," he said.

"It's a really bad emotional time for everyone. The community has been unbelievable."

He said Declan's parents are "soul-broken".

"We are going to get stronger for it," he said.

"We are going to be there for each other more. We are going to rally around."

Mr Cavanagh also appealed to anyone feeling in need of support to "start talking".

Declan Cavanagh died suddenly in the early hours of Tuesday

"You can't read people's minds," he said.

"People need to start talking. I want them to talk to family, friends, anybody who is out there for them. All the charities, everybody - there are so many people out there you can talk to.

"It is devastating. Your heart is gone - there is a void left.

"We can't get the answers. We will never know now."

A tribute on the Celtic Boys Facebook page yesterday described Declan as "not only a terrific footballer but also a smashing kid who represented our club with pride and loyalty".

"We are shocked and devastated at this news. It was a pleasure to have called you 'one of our own'," it said.

**Anyone experiencing distress or despair or who knows someone in need of support can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans on 116 123.

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