Emotional scenes as NI teenager who was at the heart of his family is laid to rest

Former Rathfriland FC player Max Wilson who died suddenly at home on Sunday
Former Rathfriland FC player Max Wilson who died suddenly at home on Sunday

Max Wilson, the Co Down teenager who died less than two weeks before his 18th birthday, was laid to rest today amid emotional scenes.

The promising young footballer died suddenly at his family home in Rathfriland on Sunday evening.

In a touching eulogy in Third Rathfriland Presbyterian Church today, Rev Seamus Burke told how Max would often communicate with his late grandfather at his graveside.

Rev Burke said: “Max missed his Granda Rodney dearly. He very often took the opportunity to visit his grave, and just talk to him, tell him what was going on in his life – about his work, about his football, his family, all the stuff that happens in everyday life.

“And I guess there it is right there – in that scene, a young man sitting at a grave, engaged in a one-way conversation. This world here, trying to reach across this impassable gulf to the other world. But we can’t, and that’s what makes this so impossibly hard.

“That’s why a family like this, is thrown into such grief, because Max is not here, and his family can’t communicate with him. All they know, all we know, is that when death comes, life changes.

“And in that change, that painful wrenching, awful change that’s been foisted upon this home on Sunday night, and will be with them until the day of their passing, I want to try and speak to them of hope, of help, perhaps even – in time – of a measure of healing.”

Max was the middle child and only son of Alan and Kathy.

Rev Burke said: “His two sisters – Tia, three years older than Max, and Molly, three years younger than him – left this young man right at the heart of this family. That’s why, as everyone here understands, this wee family’s heart is just broken.”

Max was a former pupil of Iveagh Primary School, Rathfriland High School and Southern Regional College where he studied electrical engineering.

He was a talented footballer with Rathfriland FC for whom he has scored on his debut aged just 15.

Rev Burke said: “Max had a nice way with people. He was polite, well spoken, respectful. And he could be very witty too, a side his family saw often.

“He was always winding up those at home. He tortured his two grannies when they came around, played tricks on his sisters, teasing his dad. He was always joking, loved the craic.

“Max was a cup-half-full sort of guy, loveable and a big softie at the same time. He and his mum were especially close, a nightly feature between the two was to send each other a goodnight text.”

Max was laid to rest in the burial ground adjoining Third Rathfriland Presbyterian Church after the service.