The Banbridge district has been overwhelmed by a wave of grief and sympathy following the death of 14-year-old Mark Colgan last week.
Mark died after being struck by a van outside his Scarva Road home on Thursday morning.
The young St. Colman’s Colege student had been waiting on a bus just before the accident occurred.
At his funeral on Sunday, which was attended by over 1,000 mourners, Very Rev Colum Wright from St Mary’s Chapel in Lisnagade, spoke of the bright future that lay ahead for Mark.
“You had so many hopes and dreams for your son Mark,” he told parents Felicity and Mervyn.
“You imagined what Mark was going to do with his life – he was going to excel in education, in sport and in work.
“He was going to continue to bring nothing but joy and happiness as he had done in the past fourteen years. He was going to marry, have a family and make you the proudest grandparents in the parish.”
Father Wright remarked on the outpouring of sympathy for the local family. “It’s amazing how Mark’s short life and sudden death has affected the entire community.
“People from all different Christian traditions and political persuasions have come together, and sat down together, all united in grief, telling you how sorry they all are for what you are going through.
“The entire parish has worked together to help you to be able to take one small step at a time – they are all around you Felicity and Mervyn, all ready to catch you if you fall.”
Father Wright also paid tribute to Mark’s family, who met with the driver of the van that killed their beloved son and brother.
The van driver had been arrested at the time but was subsequently released unconditionally.
Fr. Wright told how the driver and his fiancé came to visit Felicity and Mervyn’s home.
“Sitting in the room along with everyone I witnessed love, compassion, forgiveness, understanding and heartache like I don’t think I have ever witnessed before in my 26 years of Priesthood.
“I saw Felicity and Mervyn and the driver hugging each other, supporting each other, holding each other up, giving each other strength, crying together, smiling together, praying together and assuring each other that it was all an accident and that no one was to blame.
“It was the nearest thing to a scene from the gospel that I have ever witnessed, because it imitated all the teachings and the love of Jesus,” he added.
Father Wright concluded: “Everyone gathered here assures you of their prayers, their friendship and their support. There are no words to explain this, and I wouldn’t attempt to even try to find them. All I can say on behalf of everyone present is that we are so sorry and that we are all here for you
A mile and a half guard of honour was held from the Colgan family home on the Scarva Road to Saint Mary’s Chapel. Members of his local Aghaderg/Ballyvarley GAA Club, of which Mark was said to have been an enthusiastic member, were among those who lined the route to the chapel.