Greenvale Hotel victim Morgan Barnard 'a humble young man who would always listen', funeral told
Mourners gathered this morning for the first funeral of the three Tyrone teenagers who died following a crush outside a St Patrick's day disco at the Greenvale hotel in Cookstown.
Requiem Mass for 17-year-old Morgan Barnard was celebrated in Saint Patrick’s Church in Dungannon.
Hundreds gathered as pupils from St Patrick's Academy and St Joseph's College in the town formed a guard of honour outside the church.
Light drizzle turned to rain as mourners gathered in icy winds to pay their respects.
After the remains of Morgan arrived at the church, Archbishop Eamon Martin told mourners: "Words fail us at times like this.
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"Here in Co Tyrone this week - as families, parishes, schools and communities - we’ve been circling each other around with love and faith and kindness and compassion.
"The shocking events of Sunday last have reminded us that life is very fragile; we need to cherish every moment and always look out for each other, and keep each other safe."
Chief celebrant Fr Aidan McCann said everyone in the area had endured "difficult days" since the tragedy happened.
"We are here together to pray and offer solidarity to one another; to remember Morgan and to pray for him," he said.
"We remember also at this Mass Connor Currie another Academy student from Edendork, and also Lauren Bullock, student of Saint Patrick’s College from Donaghmore, who all lost their lives so tragically in Cookstown on Sunday night."
Fr McCann paid tribute to Morgan, saying he had been able to speak to many people about him and that "to say Morgan was well liked would be an understatement."
Fr McCann said: "Morgan was a person of character who had a great sense of humour with an abundance of wit; always a smile on his face. You could never pass him on the corridor in school and no doubt anywhere else without getting a warm look or a quick joke as he passed.
"Morgan had a strong personality and didn't care too much about the opinion of others revealed in his various hairstyles or indeed lack of hair, hair colours and his flamboyant choice of shirts.
"He was constantly breaking his glasses and his mother was constantly having to buy him new school shoes as he wore them out playing football. He was also a humble young man who would always listen and be there for somebody if they needed him."
Fr McCann also offered words of comfort to Morgan's family.
"We the priests of the parish extend our prayers, care and deepest sympathies to you, Maria and Jimmy, at this terrible time as well as to Morgan’s siblings Calvin, Robyn, Regan and Elyssa," he said.
Addressing Morgan's mother Maria, who is 17 weeks pregnant, Fr McCann said the baby expected later this year "will know his or her brother by the stories of love they will hear about him."
While reading a Prayer for the Faithful during the service, one of Morgan's friends paid an emotional tribute.
"Morgan was my best friend and no matter where he is he will always be my best friend," he said.
"And I am going to love him forever."
Among those who attended the funeral were the Dublin government's minister for children Katherine Zappone and Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew.
Morgan was a student at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon and his school has remembered him as an “ambitious, charismatic young person with an abundance of potential studying maths, digital technology, business studies and his absolute passion, Irish”.
“He lifted the mood everywhere he went, everyone benefited from Morgan’s energetic, positive zest for life. It was contagious," the school said.
“His smile was bright and when Morgan was around, fun and laughter always followed.”
Their funerals were also held today.
Speaking the day after his son's death, Morgan's father said he and Morgan's mother, Maria, were struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
James Bradley said his son was studying for four A-Levels in 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 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.
“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.