Three Tyrone teens laid to rest: 'One phone call changed lives in an instant'

Latest: Fond tributes have been paid to the victims of a St Patrick's Day party crush as their school friends gathered for a day of funerals.

There were emotional scenes as hundreds gathered to say farewell to three teenagers who lost their lives in the hotel disco tragedy in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

Morgan Barnard, 17, Lauren Bullock, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died in the crush outside the venue on Sunday night.

The third funeral of the day took place this afternoon as Connor Currie was laid to rest.

His football teammates formed a protective circle around his coffin as a final tribute to the talented sportsman.

The 16-year-old was a “much-loved and highly thought of” player, Edendork Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club said previously.

Mourners at his funeral, held at St Malachy’s Church, Edendork, in Co Tyrone, heard he was a “courteous and appreciative” young student.

Hundreds of people spilled out of the church and on to the streets of the village as they said their final goodbye to the popular student.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The coffin arrives for the funeral of Connor Currie at St Malachy’s Church (Brian Lawless/PA)</figcaption>
The coffin arrives for the funeral of Connor Currie at St Malachy’s Church (Brian Lawless/PA)

Before his coffin was taken into the church, the group of young footballers linked arms as they said their heartbroken goodbyes to a much-loved teammate.

Father Kevin Donaghy, parish priest of Dungannon, focused on the positive times Connor had in his short life.

"Connor lived through a lot of the more positive experiences: he knew an abundance of times to laugh and even some times to dance; over the years of his young life there was a lot of time to build up his academic success and his sporting skill; plenty of time to keep in his memories of good times with family and friends – treasured times together," he said.

"Most of all Connor knew a great amount of time to love and to be loved, most especially within his own family where despite his young age he had a remarkable capacity to look after his younger brothers Sean, Cormac and Cahir: so much so that he could be left to look after them and even prepare food for them when their parents went shopping or on some short trip."

"The times with Connor were good times.

"Teachers remember him as a courteous and appreciative young student, always in the habit of saying thank you as he left the classroom - though he maybe let that be the passport that got him through an odd bit of mischief as well!

"At home that “thank you” was a constant habit as well - he always spoke those words as he left the kitchen table.

"He knew he was loved at home – as his parents said to me “he was a gem'."

Speaking at the EU summit in Brussels, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland is "filled with sadness" at the deaths of the three young teenagers in Cookstown.

Mr Varadkar said the "thoughts of the Irish Government and the Irish people are very much" with the families of Lauren Bullock, Morgan Barnard and Connor Currie.

"I just wanted to start off really with some words of condolences to the families or Morgan Barnard and also Lauren Bullock.

"As you know the funerals are taking place today, and Katherine Zappone as Minister for Children, will represent the Irish Government at those funerals and my aide de camp will represent the Government at the funeral of Connor Currie.

"So I think it's fair to say that everyone is filled with sadness at the deaths of those three wonderful young people and we can only imagine what their parents, friends and communities are going through and the thoughts of the Irish Government and Irish people are very much with them as well," he said.

Meanwhile, the 40-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by detectives investigating the deaths of the three teenagers has been released on police bail pending further enquiries, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

- Press Association and Digital desk. Additional reporting by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Earlier: Tyrone funerals: 'One phone call changed your lives in an instant'

11.20am: The parish priest of Pomeroy has told the funeral Mass over a teenager killed in a crush at a disco on Sunday night that St Patrick's Day will never be the same in the area.

Father David Moore was speaking at the funeral of 17-year-old Lauren Bullock, who died alongside Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17.

"St Patrick’s Day 2019, in the parish of Donaghmore and beyond, will not be remembered with any nostalgia or fond memories of the band parades or any other part of the celebration of our national Saint’s day.

Connor Currie, Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard who lost their lives after the crush on St Patrick
Connor Currie, Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard who lost their lives after the crush on St Patrick's Day

"Instead for many decades to come, St Patrick’s Day 2019 will be called to mind as the awful day when three beautiful young people, all in the prime of their lives, were overpowered, literally in the mad rush of our modern world and needlessly lost their lives," said Fr Moore.

"We learned, in a state of shock and disbelief, of the news of Lauren’s tragic death, and the deaths of Connor and Morgan. The very large gathering here today is to honour and respect the life of Lauren, so sadly cut short, and to support you Mary, Martin, Shane and Ryan," he said addressing Lauren's family.

"We can only but imagine how you are feeling today. Everything was okay on Sunday and one phone call to you changed your lives in an instant and we are all too aware that life will not be the same again for any of you without Lauren. We never know what each new day will have in store for any of us."

'A vivacious, charismatic and energetic young man': Tributes paid to teen killed in Tyrone disco crush

10.15am: The funeral of a teenager killed after a crush at a Co Tyrone disco on St Patrick's Day has taken place this morning.

Seventeen-year-old Morgan Barnard was laid to rest at St Patrick’s Church, Dungannon.

The coffin of Morgan Barnard is taken into St Patrick
The coffin of Morgan Barnard is taken into St Patrick's Church, Dungannon for his funeral. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

"In these days of tragedy and deep sorrow, I've had the opportunity to speak to many people about Morgan and they all agree on what they say about him. To say that Morgan was well liked would be an understatement," said Fr Aidan McCann, curate of Dungannon.

"He was a vivacious, charismatic and energetic young man who nobody had a bad word to say about. Morgan was a person of character who had a great sense of humour with an abundance of wit; always a smile on his face.

"You could never pass him on the corridor in school and no doubt anywhere else without getting a warm look or a quick joke as he passed. Morgan had a strong personality and didn't care too much about the opinion of others revealed in his various hair styles or indeed lack of hair, hair colours and his flamboyant choice of shirts," Fr McCann added.

"In the face of this great suffering and sorrow that is felt by us all at this difficult time many people can find it hard to believe and it can put their faith to the test.

"Why does God allow this? We must remember that God is not far removed from us in our sufferings and sorrows," he said.

"On this most difficult of all days, may Morgan, Conor and Lauren all rest on peace. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord…"

Last night Northern Ireland footballer Niall McGinn, who is from Dungannon, paid tribute to the victims.

"It's been very, very sad for my local community and Northern Ireland as well.

"If I can shed any bit of happiness amongst my village hopefully I can do so but (I am) very saddened with the news breaking at home."

- Additional reporting Press Association

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