The family of Derry teenager Sean McNair yesterday clung to each other for support as he was finally laid to rest after Requiem Mass at St Mary’s Church in Creggan.
The funeral cortege was led by Sean’s broken-hearted mother Jackie, and sisters, Rachel and Taylor.
There were emotional scenes as friends carried Sean’s coffin into the church past a guard of honour made up of pupils from St Columb’s College, where the 17-year-old had just completed his GCSE exams. Hundreds of mourners heard how the teenager, who died tragically after jumping from Rathmullan Pier during birthday celebrations with friends, was a “friendly young fella who simply loved life”. The service was con-celebrated by local PP Fr Stephen McLaughlin, and Fr Martin Collum, Rathmullan. Members of the cross-border rescue services who helped recover Sean’s body after a nine-day search, were among those present.
In his homily, Fr McLaughlin said: “Our hearts are heavy because we are letting go of a young man of just 17 years who had so much to live for and so much of life still to experience, hopes to fulfil, and dreams to realise. “Among the many different things said to me about Sean over the last few days is that he never brought any bother to his mother’s door. In Derry, that is among the highest compliments that can be paid to a young fella.”
The Creggan priest also spoke of Sean’s love for his family. “He was an only son and a brother to Rachel and Taylor. Even at 17 he had a strong sense of wanting to look after them, to be the man of the house and look out for them. That’s the role he enjoyed,” he said.
Fr McLaughlin also said Sean’s mother and sisters wanted to thank the people of Creggan and Rathmullan for their support during the search for his body. “It’s true in the darkness of these moments we have experienced the brightest sign of human kindness in the way so many people from near and far rallied around. The sense of relief when Sean was recovered brought a source of strength. Yet none of this masks the reality that we have to let go to a bright, friendly young fella who simply loved life,” he said. Sean was laid to rest in the City Cemetery.