A priest has told mourners at the funeral of toddler Ronan McGavigan that the little boy had been “full of love and joy” prior to the tragedy which claimed his life at the weekend.
Fr Eamon Graham was speaking to the hundreds of mourners who had packed into St Columba’s Long Tower Church this morning for the Funeral Mass.
He also related how the two-and-a-half-year-old had had a “helping of rascality” and would tell his mother he loved her to win her round any time he was told off.
Little Ronan died after being knocked down in a traffic accident outside his home on the Lone Moor Road on Sunday afternoon.
Mourners, led by Ronan’s family. moved off from the same area this morning.
A horse-drawn glass carriage led the funeral procession up Hogg’s Folly to the church, with floral wreaths placed inside the hearse spelling out ‘Ro-Ro’.
A little teddy bear was placed on top of more floral tributes fixed to the roof of the hearse, bringing home the innocence of the little boy at the centre of what was described during the Funeral Mass as a heartbreaking tragedy.
Derry Colts U-12 team-mates of Ronan’s big brother Dylan formed a guard of honour as the hearse arrived at the Church, and there were tearful scenes as mourners filed into the church under darkening skies this morning.
Speaking to a packed congregation, Fr Eamon Graham told those gathered that the tragedy which claimed the toddler’s life “seemed so unfair and so hard to explain”.
“I’m very conscious that nothing I say is in any way going to ease the terrible burden, and our presence here speaks more importantly than anything any of us might say,” he said.
In his Homily, Fr Graham said the focus now was on supporting Ronan’s family.
“This is for you the most difficult of times, the hardest burden any family, any parents could be asked to carry,” he said.
“Last Sunday was a lovely Sunday day and it was a great delight to see and hear children playing. Nothing on a day like that could more joyful and more uplifting. Yet in an instant that day of happiness was turned upside down and poor Ronan lost his life.
“I know I speak for the family when I say they greatly appreciate the help that the emergency services and medical people gave on Sunday. Sadly it wasn’t enough but it was appreciated.”
Speaking about little Ronan, Fr Graham said: “I think all of us in the past few days have come to know the character Ronan was.
“He was only two and a half years old yet he was full of love; full of joy and with a good helping of rascality.
“Laura told me on Sunday that any time she told him off, he would come over and say he loved her, just to be sure he won her round again.
“We know that he was a great character and he did so much good in his short life.”
He said that family have been overwhelmed by the support, kindness and love they have received from friend and stranger alike.
“Amidst all this sadness, that help and support has been a very bright light, a light of kindness in the most difficult and darkest of times.”
Fr Graham said that the tragedy had touched people’s hearts far and wide, with an Evangelical clergy member from the Shankill Road having been in touch to say their congregation too had been praying for little Ronan this week.
During the Mass, Prayers of the Faithful were dedicated to Ronan’s family and the emergency services during the mass, and burial was due to take place this afternoon at the City Cemetery.