Northern Ireland news

Funeral of Tyrone under 20 footballer John Rafferty hears he was 'blue eyed boy' of his parents

REQUIEM: Mourners gathered in Co Tyrone yesterday for the funeral of John Rafferty (21), killed in a car crash on the A5, Beragh on Thursday
John Breslin

JOHN Rafferty came into being "like a flash" and he lived his life with swiftness and agility, including on the football field, his funeral has heard.

The Tyrone under 20 county footballer was laid to rest yesterday following a service at St Mary's Church in Killyclogher.

Fr Kevin McElhennon told the congregation inside the church, those outside and in the parish hall John was the "blue eyed boy" of his parents Felix and Roisin.

And he remains a "big brother", always "at the right hand side" of his siblings, Claire and Michael, Fr McElhennon said.

The 21-year-old lost his life in a collision involving a car and tractor on the A5 Curr Road near Beragh.

He represented Tyrone at Under 20 level and was captain when his club won the county minor championship in 2019.

His speech on that day was described as showing "a level of maturity and leadership that defied his young age".

He was "a true and loyal friend" and always "striving for self improvement", Fr McElhennon said, adding: "Swiftness and agility marked his life."

"The heart has been ripped out of the family. For his parents Felix and Roisin, no time are vows of marriage, for better, for worse, in good times and bad, been lived more truly than at the moment.

“John lived faithfully and love poured out, love in family. John, his sister Clare and brother Michael received the very best in family life.

"God gave them three wonderful children, two brown eyed and one blue eyed boy, John...the big brother who will always be at your right hand side."

Fr McElhennon said John "came into the world in a flash” and that "swiftness and agility marked his life".

He said the community, all feeling pain, stands united with the family who have lost someone "too quickly, too suddenly and too tragically".

John was an "inspiration, always striving for self improvement, inspiring friends and team mates towards the excellence he strove for in his own life as well.

“He showed clear leadership skills from the early days in his time at St Mary’s Primary School. It also lay in other qualities that marked his life. Loyalty, trustworthiness, ability to keep confidence, a thoughtful, obliging and kind nature, sportsmanship, modest and humility in success and his honour and decency in defeat, commitment and determination even in the face of obstacles.

“We remember with gratitude a young man, a model in good living."

A Tyrone GAA jersey, a Tyrone minor signed jersey, the minor cup his club side won in 2019, a Killyclogher GAA club tie, a family portrait and a photograph from his work were placed before the alter ahead of the service.

Northern Ireland news