Creggan came to a standstill yesterday as hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Creggan teenager, Connor McCafferty, where the congregation heard his griefstricken mother, Angela, say she wished she could have taken his place instead.
There were emotional scenes as 19-year-old Connor - described by his family as a ‘6ft 3” tall smile’ - was laid to rest following Requiem Mass at St. Mary’s Church.
The grief was palpable in the Creggan estate following the teenager’s tragic accidental drowning in the reservoir at Creggan Country Park while partying with friends in the early hours of Thursday morning.
People, young and old, wept openly and it seemed as if the whole estate was there to pay its respects and support Connor’s heartbroken loved ones.
As family and friends prepared to take the former St. Peter’s High School and Holy Child PS pupil to his final resting place, a heart-rending poem, written by his mother, Angela, was read to the congregation. In it she said: “The angels, they came and took you. That really wasn’t fair. They took our bump, our beautiful son, our future life, my heir. If only they had asked us; if we could have took your place. We would have done so willingly, leaving you spoilt, to race.”
The hearse carrying Connor’s remains was preceded by a flat bed lorry weighed down with floral tributes and flanked by around 40 of his closest friends in a guard of honour.
They wore Glasgow Celtic FC shirts with the words, ‘Connor 1 RIP’ or ‘C Mc C 1 RIP’ written on the back.
Many of the young people were also mourning the first anniversary yesterday of Creggan teenager Sean McNair, who drowned while swimming with friends off Rathmullan Pier this time last year.
During his homily, Creggan Parish Priest Fr Gerard Hassan, said it had been a “harrowing” few days for both the McCafferty family and the wider Creggan community.” It was he said, “a tremendous and terrible tragedy for the whole community.”
“It is difficult to deal with for everyone in the Creggan area. We can only imagine how difficult it is for the family and those who were in the Creggan Country Park on Thursday. Connor was not with us long but he brought lots of joy to his family and everyone he knew. Evidence for that is the large number of young people here this morning.”
Speaking about how Connor’s tragic death had “affected the whole community,” Fr. Hassan said: “Many people, young and old alike, have been moved by his death and are greatly concerned for his family. His Cromore Gardens home will never be the same.”
Fr Hassan continued: “There will be difficult times to come but with God’s help we can pick up the pieces. That would be what Connor would want his family to do. Connor was the kind of person who gave everything to his family and friends; he tried to make everyone happy and he seems to have achieved that. It is absolutely amazing how he touched so many hearts in such a short time. I’ve never known anyone so popular.”
Connor was laid to rest in the City Cemetery. He is survived by his mother and father, Angela and Barry and brother, Barry Jnr.
For further coverage see page 2.