Tragic teen ‘had gentle nature’

Friends and relatives at the funeral of John Irwin at St. John's Parish Church, Middletown, Co Armagh. The 16-year-old died suddenly at his local school, City of Armagh High School.

Friends and relatives at the funeral of John Irwin at St. John's Parish Church, Middletown, Co Armagh. The 16-year-old died suddenly at his local school, City of Armagh High School.

Tragic teenager John Irwin was “a young man who had a quiet, gentle nature and was always willing to lend a helping hand with a heart and a half”, mourners at his funeral service have heard.

Hundreds of mourners attended a funeral service for the 16-year-old schoolboy from Tynan in Co Armagh on Saturday.

Friends and relatives at the funeral of John Irwin at St. John's Parish Church, Middletown, Co Armagh

Friends and relatives at the funeral of John Irwin at St. John's Parish Church, Middletown, Co Armagh

The schoolboy - who was weeks away from sitting his GCSEs - collapsed on Tuesday at City of Armagh High School and died in the early hours of Wednesday.

More than 500 mourners - including staff and pupils from his school- attended the service at St John’s Parish Church, Middletown.

Addressing mourners, Rev Matthew Hagan said: “John had a quiet, unassuming manner and was reserved in his faith.

“He had a quiet, sincere and genuine faith in God and his family are comforted by the fact that John is at home with the Lord.

John Irwin died after collapsing at Armagh City High School on Tuesday

John Irwin died after collapsing at Armagh City High School on Tuesday

“John’s death leaves a huge void in the lives of his family and all those who knew him.”

Paying tribute to John’s love of farming and gentle nature, Rev Hagan said: “John had a great love for sheep and owned half of the flock on the home farm and knew every sheep by name.

“He had a natural flair for sheep husbandry and had pedigree ewes and the highlight of rearing his sheep this year was that he got a pedigree Texel tip lamb.

“John loved caring for and rearing and feeding the lambs and sheep in his care but his mum told me that John enjoyed nothing more that eating a leg of lamb for his Sunday lunch, and on Sunday past the family had sat down to a leg of lamb for their lunch.”

Earlier school principal David Livingstone said special assemblies have been held to help pupils come to terms with the tragedy of John’s passing.

He said: “John was actively involved in making plans for his future, hoping to pursue a career in butchery alongside his farming activities.”

John’s funeral was held a week after the death of road traffic collision victim Lesley-Ann McCarragher - a former City of Armagh High School head girl. She was struck by a car while out running and later died in hospital.

John is deeply mourned by his parents - Keith and Diane - and siblings James, Ruth, William and Rachel.

After the service, he was buried in St John’s Parish Church churchyard.