Northern Ireland

Funeral of Ronan Wilson (9) hears how he 'taught us to embrace life and be happy'

Family and friends of Ronan Wilson during his funeral at St Mary's Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Family and friends of Ronan Wilson during his funeral at St Mary's Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Family and friends of Ronan Wilson during his funeral at St Mary's Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Mourners at the funeral of Co Tyrone schoolboy Ronan Wilson have heard how he "taught us to embrace life and be happy".

Hundreds of people packed into St Mary’s Church in Dunamore to say their final farewells to the nine-year-old from Kildress following his tragic death last weekend.

There were emotional scenes as tributes were paid to the young boy by his school principal, Eileen Ward, who described him as "a character, of that no one would argue… everybody loved Ronan".

Parish priest Fr Paddy Hughes, who had baptised Ronan and celebrated his First Holy Communion last year, also told of how he had "touched the hearts of so many people".

Ronan, who played football for the under-10s team at Kildress Wolfe Tones GAA club, died after he was struck by a car in Bundoran, Co Donegal on Saturday.

A man has appeared in court charged with three offences in connection with the incident including failing to stop.

Members of Kildress Wolfe Tones GAA club at the funeral of Ronan Wilson. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Members of Kildress Wolfe Tones GAA club at the funeral of Ronan Wilson. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Members of Kildress Wolfe Tones GAA club at the funeral of Ronan Wilson. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

On Thursday, Ronan's white coffin arrived the church on the back of a lorry cab with his football jersey on top.

Read more:

Nine-year-old killed in hit-and-run ‘had a wee smile on his face all the time'

The deep tragedy of Tyrone schoolboy Ronan Wilson's road death in Donegal

His classmates and teachers from St Mary's Primary School in Dunamore and clubmates from his GAA club were among the mourners, which also included Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill.

During the Requiem Mass, Fr Hughes told of how "the whole of the parish had been stunned" by Ronan's death.

"Since the news broke late on Saturday night of Ronan's death in a hit-and-run accident, the whole of the parish has been stunned, indeed are lost for words," he said.

"One of the sentences you hear is 'what can you say?'

"Indeed what can any of us say to take away or ease the terrible pain of loss for the Wilsons that they are experiencing at this moment.

"There is no instant solution or no instant words. The death of a child is every parent's worst nightmare."

The funeral of Ronan Wilson at St Mary’s Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The funeral of Ronan Wilson at St Mary’s Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker The funeral of Ronan Wilson at St Mary’s Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The priest also spoke about Ronan's "sense of boyish fun, he so loved life, he loved football, he was so proud to get man of the match last year".

"He loved being around the Kildress Wolfe Tones field, whether he was playing himself or watching a match or training," he said.

"Following in his father's footsteps, lorries, cars, quads were all important to him, as well as a horse.

"In school he mixed well with his class, he was very kindly and helpful to the other children."

Ronan Wilson died last Saturday. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Ronan Wilson died last Saturday. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Ronan Wilson died last Saturday. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Ms Ward spoke fondly about Ronan, describing him as "one beautiful little boy who enriched the whole community of St Mary's in his short life".

"He had such a huge personality and although small in stature, it was hard not to notice him when he entered the room," she said.

"Everybody loved Ronan.

"Ronan wore his heart on his sleeve and was able to converse freely with his peers and adults.

"He had endless stories to share and couldn't wait to tell them.

"Ronan was a great friend to all in his class and there is no doubt they will miss him dreadfully.

"We may have been the educators in school, but Ronan has taught us so much more."

Ms Ward added that everyone at the school has "been eternally blessed to have had Ronan in our lives"

"And although we will miss that endearing and infectious smile, we will cherish the short time that we were given with him," she said.

"We will miss him terribly, be it in the classroom or kicking a ball out in the playground, but we know that he will be our angel walking beside us as we walk throughout the corridors and classrooms of the school and he will never be far away.

The funeral of Ronan Wilson at St Mary’s Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The funeral of Ronan Wilson at St Mary’s Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker The funeral of Ronan Wilson at St Mary’s Church, Dunamore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

"There are many who live long lives and may not have been as loved as Ronan, his life on Earth was short but he touched the lives of so many and he will always be loved and remembered by all his friends and families in St Mary's Primary School."

Following the service, Ronan was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

He is survived by his parents Emma and Dean, siblings Calum and Amy and family circle.