Northern Ireland news

Cookstown: Morgan Barnard's father says he was 'so thankful for the small things in life'

Morgan Barnard was a 17-year-old pupil at St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon
Connla Young

THE grieving father of Morgan Barnard (17) has told of the family's devastation as they struggle to come to terms with the Greenvale Hotel tragedy.

James Bradley spoke to The Irish News just hours after his son was one of three teenagers to lose their lives outside the St Patrick’s night disco in Cookstown.

Police have said they believe they died after a “crush” as a large group of young people were waiting to get into the popular venue at about 9.30pm.

However, Mr Bradley said police have yet to tell the families exactly what happened.

While the three victims were not close friends, Morgan's father revealed that he was in the same primary school class as Lauren’s Bullock’s father Martin.

The other two victims: 

GAA club leads tributes to footballer Connor Currie 

Lauren Bullock remembered as 'a shining light'

Morgan (17) also died on the 43rd anniversary of the murder of his great uncle Patrick Barnard, who was just 13 when he was one of four people killed in the UVF bombing of the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon on St Patrick’s Day 1976.

In an emotional interview, Mr Bradley told how he and Morgan's mother Maria, who is 17 weeks pregnant, were struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

“She has chosen not to believe it at the moment,” he said.

The 43-year-old described how he and his son, from Springdale in Dungannon, had at one point discussed giving the Greenvale a miss on the night he died.

Morgan Barnard died at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Sunday

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“But to be honest I knew he was going to join up with his mates," he said.

He said he and Morgan’s mother first became aware something was wrong when they got a phone call from a relative.

“His cousin phoned his mum and said there has been a terrible accident at the Greenvale,” he said.

“We rang the hospital but they would not tell us much.

Morgan Barnard died at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Sunday

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“We made our way to the hospital and I knew by the reaction of the police there was someone dead in there and then we had to ID him.

“I was hoping in my heart of hearts he had 500 stitches and was breathing.

Three teenagers have been killed in a tragic accident at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown. Picture by Mark Marlow

“I knew there was something terribly wrong.”

Morgan was a hard-working pupil studying four A-levels at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon - Irish, maths, digital technology and IT.

He was also fluent in Irish and held a gold fáinne.

“He went to St Patrick’s Primary School to teach the younger ones,” Mr Bradley said.

He also revealed that he recently found out that his son was involved in voluntary work with Cancer Research in his home town

“I didn’t know he was doing it, it’s how he went about things, he went about things his own way.

“He was of a kind nature, he was a gold pin of a lad.

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“He was so thankful for the small things in life and would always thank you.”

The distraught dad also described his son as “good natured” and said he “lit the room up”.

Mr Bradley said his son will be "sorely missed" by his parents, older brother and three younger sisters, aged just four, three and two.

It is expected the remains of the three teenagers will be returned to their families today.

Independent Dungannon councillor Barry Monteith was also in the same primary school class as Mr Bradley and Mr Bullock.

He said people in the area are numb.

“People are totally shocked, everybody is dumbfounded by it," he said.

“The community has no answers.

“Our heart goes out to all the family and friends of the three young people, it’s a tragic case.”

Morgan and fellow victim Connor Currie were pupils at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon.

In a statement published on Tuesday, the school said it was trying to come to terms with the loss of two "much loved and popular pupils".

"Morgan was an ambitious, charismatic young person with an abundance of potential studying Maths, Digital Technology, Business Studies and his absolute passion, Irish," it said.

"He lifted the mood everywhere he went, everyone benefited from Morgan’s energetic, positive zest for life. It was contagious. His smile was bright and when Morgan was around, fun and laughter always followed.

"Connor was a kind-hearted, loyal friend. Always willing to help others, courteous, mannerly and compassionate. He had a great sense of team spirit and his warm, caring nature endeared him to all and earned him much deserved respect.

"Our school community will miss them both deeply. Our lives have been enriched by knowing them and they will always have a place in our hearts.

"Our prayer service yesterday afternoon and the time afterwards was very important for those who were close to Connor and Morgan and those who were witness to the events of Sunday night.

"Time and facilities are available for pupils and staff today from 1.00pm. It is best for pupils to come in and talk together, share their experiences and seek guidance and support as they need it. We have our school counsellor available throughout the day and the Critical Incident Team will also be available for pupils over the coming days.

"We remember also Lauren and our friends in St. Patrick’s College as they too process their grief and devastation.

"This is a terrible tragedy for the families and friends of Morgan, Connor and Lauren and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers at this time and in the difficult time ahead."

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