Schoolchildren formed a solemn guard of honour today in tribute to a young victim of the horrifying St Patrick’s Day party crush on an emotional day as funerals were held for all three teenagers.
Hundreds of people attended a church in Dungannon, County Tyrone, for a requiem mass to say farewell to 17-year-old Morgan Barnard, who died in the tragedy outside a hotel disco in nearby Cookstown on Sunday.
Morgan’s family, who said the boy brightened people’s lives with his humour, had encouraged friends and family to wear Hawaiian shirts or sports tops to the service, which was attended by Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.
While reading a Prayer for the Faithful during the mass, one of Morgan’s friends said in a tribute: ‘Morgan was my best friend and no matter where he is he will always be my best friend. And I am going to love him forever.’
Pupils from schools in Dungannon and Cookstown took part in the guard of honour on a solemn day, with funerals also being held today for the other two victims of the queue crush – Lauren Bullock, 17, and Connor Currie, 16.
Lauren was carried into St Patrick’s Church in nearby Donaghamore in a pink and white casket ahead of her requiem mass this morning, after her relatives and school friends followed behind the cortege in the rain.
Dozens of mourners walk through Dungannon as the cortege arrives at St Patrick’s Church for Morgan Barnard’s funeral today
Children attend the funeral of Morgan Barnard in Dungannon today, after he was one of the three teenagers to die in a crush
Mourners including Morgan’s mother Maria Barnard arrive for the funeral at St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon today
As Morgan’s requiem mass began at St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, addressed mourners, saying: ‘Words fail us at times like this.’
He added: ‘All that really matters, and makes a difference, is love and friendship and compassion. And only faith can dare to speak into the darkness of these days to offer a glimmer of light and hope in this valley of tears.
‘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.
‘Thank you all for being here today to offer your prayerful presence and support. In the days ahead, we will cherish the memories of these precious and gifted young people whose lives have been so suddenly wrenched from among us; we will continue to hold their families, and each other, close in love and faith.’
In his homily, Father Aidan McCann said it was an understatement to say Morgan was well-liked. ‘He was a vivacious, charismatic and energetic young man who nobody had a bad word to say about,’ he said.
Morgan’s family said they will remember the teenager as loving the simple things in life, and told how he volunteered
The coffin of Morgan is taken into St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon for his funeral in Northern Ireland this morning
Catherine McHugh (holding red and white umbrella), the principal of St Patrick’s College, at the funeral of her pupil Morgan
Maria Barnard, the mother of Morgan, is comforted as she attends his funeral at St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon today
‘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 highlighted Morgan’s passion for the Irish language. ‘If I may, I will share a funny story which I think exemplifies very well Morgan’s witty side,’ he added.
‘On one occasion, in the corridor in the (Dungannon) Academy, he was speaking to a friend who had barely no Irish when one of the Irish teachers stopped to say a few words with Morgan in Irish. When the teacher had walked on, he turned to his friend and comically said ‘Do you know what she just said? She just called you fat’. To the stunned amazement of his friend.
‘But such was Morgan. He loved the academy, his friends and teachers there, and the academy loved him too – and so it is fitting and very moving that he is buried wearing the academy crest on his heart.’
Morgan died along with two other teenagers after a crush at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Sunday evening
Archbishop Eamon Martin arrives for the the funeral of Morgan Barnard at St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon this morning
Two girls hug each other at the funeral of Morgan at St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon today following the crush on Sunday
The coffin of Morgan is taken from St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon after his funeral in Northern Ireland this morning
A funeral service for Lauren also took place this morning. She was carried into St Patrick’s Church in nearby Donaghamore in a pink and white casket decorated with flowers ahead of a requiem mass.
Purple-clad members of Lauren’s cheerleading group, Euphoria All Star Cheerleading NI, formed a guard of honour as she arrived at the church – and was later taken from it.
Other cheerleading squads were also in the line-up as well as dozens of children from local schools. The line of wellwishers stretched from the church doors up the street past a Celtic cross.
She was borne through the church yard in Donaghmore followed by an enormous but silent crowd who had accompanied her on her final journey. Schoolchildren lined the street while the bell at St Patrick’s Church tolled.
Chief celebrant at Lauren’s service Father David Moore said the three victims had lost their lives ‘needlessly’. He said St Patrick’s Day 2019 would never be remembered as a celebration of Ireland’s patron saint.
‘Instead, for many decades to come, Saint Patrick’s Day 2019 will be called to mind as the awful day when three beautiful young people, all in the prime of their lives, were overpowered, literally in the mad rush of our modern world, and needlessly lost their lives,’ he said.
While reading a Prayer for the Faithful during the service, one of Morgan’s friends said he was ‘going to love him forever’
At St Patrick’s Church in Dungannon, Father Aidan McCann said it was an understatement to say Morgan was well-liked
Mother Maria Barnard is held by her partner James Bradley as they follow the cortege for Morgan’s funeral this morning
Archbishop Eamon Martin told mourners as Morgan’s requiem mass began today: ‘Words fail us at times like this’
‘On Sunday night, and during the early hours of Monday, a dark and threatening cloud hung over all of us as we struggled to understand and come to terms with the tragic turn of events on what ought to have been a night of fun, dance, friendship and laughter.
‘Instead we learned, in a state of shock and disbelief, of the news of Lauren’s tragic death, and the deaths of Connor and Morgan.’
The priest said Lauren was the ‘essence of a wonderful and caring daughter, sister, grand-daughter, niece to her family and a loyal and caring friend to so many others’.
He told her grieving family: ‘So many people have been touched by the events of Sunday night. Take consolation in that, a sign of what people in the community and local area truly thought of her and yourselves as a family.
Lauren Bullock, 17, one of the three victims, was described by her family as a ‘very thoughtful and caring young girl’
The funeral cortege makes its way to St Patrick’s Church in Donaghmore for the funeral of Lauren Bullock today
Schoolchildren stand as the funeral cortege passes them on its way to the church in Donaghmore for Lauren’s funeral today
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald at the funeral of Lauren at St Patrick’s Church in Donaghmore today
The funeral cortege is followed by mounrers as it arrives at St Patrick’s Church in Donaghmore for Lauren’s funeral today
A funeral service for 17-year-old victim Lauren Bullock is also taking place this morning, at St Patrick’s Church in Donaghmore
‘Aged only 17, Lauren was well in the process of making her mark on her home, her school, this community, her circle of friends. She was ‘living the dream’, energetic and full of life, doing and enjoying all the things that made her happy.
‘She was a girl who was happiest when she was doing things to help others and gave of herself and her time to do a good deed whenever and wherever she could.’
Fr Moore said Lauren’s friend described her as having a ‘warm and bubbly personality with a very infectious smile’. ‘That’s a lovely picture for all of us to have of her in our minds today,’ he said.
‘Lauren was getting on so well in Saint Patrick’s College in Dungannon and her teachers there can attest to how eager and very able a student Lauren was. She had a bright future in front of her and we know she still had so much more to contribute to our community.
Lauren was carried into St Patrick’s Church in Donaghamore in a pink and white casket ahead of her requiem mass today
The coffin of Lauren arrives for the teenager’s funeral at St Patrick’s Church in Donaghmore this morning
The coffin of Lauren Bullock is taken from St Patrick’s Church in Donaghmore following the 17-year-old’s funeral today
The line of wellwishers at Lauren’s funeral today stretched from the church doors up the street past a Celtic cross
The priest at Lauren’s funeral told the congregation in Donaghmore that her ‘real passion’ was cheerleading
‘Nothing seemed to get Lauren down. She had such a positive outlook on life and a real zest for living. Lauren loved people as much as they loved her and was a real ‘socialite’, with lots of friends and people who admired and looked up to her.
‘Lauren was involved in football and the scouts. She had started her driving lessons and had taken to it like the proverbial ‘duck to water’.’
A funeral pamphlet had a photograph of Lauren with her dog on the front.
The priest said Lauren’s ‘real passion’ was cheerleading. The teenager was an active member of the Eurphoria cheerleading group.
Purple-clad members of Lauren’s cheerleading group, Euphoria All Star Cheerleading NI, formed a guard of honour today
Other cheerleading squads were also in the line-up outside Lauren’s funeral as well as dozens of children from local schools
Young people played a part in Lauren’s service today which saw youthful attendees appear to outnumber the adults
Lauren’s remains were carried from the church, the clergyman in front, as school children formed a long line to both sides
‘Lauren was a girl who loved to get dressed up, loved make-up, her nails done, a bit of style, her hair just right,’ he said.
Connor’s family thanked the paramedics, ambulance staff, police officers and members of the public who helped him
‘She only had to come into the family home at number 27 and they knew she had arrived. Family values and family time was so very important to her.
‘She was full of energy, a delight to her parents and a marvellous support to her brothers. Benji the dog arrived three years ago into the family home as Lauren’s dog and he was absolute gold dust, her pride and joy.’
He added: ‘Lauren has had too short a time on this earth, but for her 17 years of life she has certainly achieved a lot, she used her time well and wisely.’
Lauren’s remains were carried from the church, the clergyman in front, as school children formed a long line to both sides.
Young people played a part in the service and it was a ceremony in which youthful attendees appeared to outnumber the adults.
The third funeral, of Connor Currie, 16, is held today at Saint Malachy’s Church in Edendork, County Tyrone
Members of the Edendork Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club wore their jerseys at Connor’s funeral today
The Edendork Gaelic Athletic Association members stood in line and formed a circle around Connor’s coffin today
Connor was a ‘much-loved and highly thought of’ player, the club said before his funeral in Edendork this afternoon
Schools forming a guard of honour at the funeral today included St Patrick’s Academy, where Connor attended
People lined the streets of the village for the funeral of Connor at St Malachy’s Church in Edendork this afternoon
One girl clutched the pamphlet with Lauren’s picture on it and dabbed her eyes with a tissue. Lauren’s close family walked arm in arm behind her coffin. A fatherly arm was on one youngster’s shoulders. Several mourners had a purple ribbon attached to their jackets.
The third funeral, of Connor Currie, 16, was held at Saint Malachy’s Church, Edendork, Co Tyrone.
Schools forming a guard of honour included St Patrick’s Academy, where Connor attended, St Joseph’s Convent in Donaghmore and St Patrick’s College in Dungannon. People lined the streets of the village.
Members from Edendork Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club wore their jerseys as they stood in line and formed a circle around the coffin. Connor was a ‘much-loved and highly thought of’ player, the club said previously.
Sinn Fein’s president Mary-Lou McDonald, deputy leader Michelle O’Neill and local MP Francie Molloy attended.
Children from St Joseph’s Convent in Donaghmore and St Patrick’s College in Dungannon also attended Connor’s funeral
The coffin arrives for the funeral of Connor this afternoon at St Malachy’s Church in Edendork, County Tyrone
The coffin arrives for the funeral of Connor at St Malachy’s Church in Edendork in Northern Ireland today
Connor died along with two other teengaersd after a crush at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Sunday evening
Members from Edendork Gaelic Athletic Association club stood in line and formed a circle around Connor’s coffin today
A group of boys in sports shirts walk ahead of the coffin as they attend the funeral of Connor in Edendork this afternoon
Motorists had been advised by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to expect delays throughout the day due to the funeral services.
The families said they are grateful to witnesses who have spoken to the PSNI and urged anyone else who saw what happened to come forward and give their account to investigators.
A police statement issued on behalf of the families said: ‘The families want to find out exactly what happened to their children and have asked people to cooperate fully with the police investigation.
‘The three families would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the local community for their support since the tragic events of Sunday night.
‘The families would also like to thank the emergency services who responded at the scene and the staff at Antrim Area Hospital.’
Morgan’s family said they will remember him as loving the simple things in life.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton (left) of the PSNI, Nigel Ruddell (centre) of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, and Superintendent Mike Baird, District Commander for PSNI Mid-Ulster, at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Monday
Alice Lambert and her fellow performing arts students at South West College Cookstown (from left), David McKenna, Meghan Loughran, and Stefan Doherty, sign the book of condolence at Burnavon Arts & Cultural Centre in Cookstown on Monday
Students from Holy Trinity College arrive to leave floral tributes outside The Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown on Tuesday
A group of young teenage girls escorted by their families leave floral tributes at the entrance to the hotel on Tuesday
‘He volunteered for a number of things including working at the local Cancer Research shop,’ they said. ‘He always had a smile for everyone and brightened up the classroom with his humour.’
Connor’s family thanked the staff at Antrim Area Hospital, paramedics, ambulance staff, PSNI and members of the public who helped him.
Lauren was described by her family as a ‘very thoughtful and caring young girl who was outgoing and fun loving’.
Michael McElhatton, 52, who owns the Greenvale Hotel where the deaths occurred, was arrested earlier in the week on suspicion of manslaughter. He was subsequently bailed to return for further questioning in future.
A 40-year-old man also being questioned on suspicion of manslaughter remained in police custody for questioning this morning.