Mourners at James McDonagh funeral told ‘life is precious’

The funeral of James McDonagh, in Coalisland today. James was killed after being punched outside the Elk nightclub last weekend.
The funeral of James McDonagh, in Coalisland today. James was killed after being punched outside the Elk nightclub last weekend.

More than 1000 mourners at the funeral of James (Jim) McDonagh in Coalisland have heard how “life is precious, too precious to be cast aside vicariously”.

The 28-year-old from Castledawson, was attacked outside the Elk Inn on the Hillhead Road outside Toomebridge, in the early hours of January 10.

The funeral of James McDonagh, in Coalisland today

The funeral of James McDonagh, in Coalisland today

The father-of-two died later in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

His funeral was held today at noon, hours after a woman who had been arrested in the Banbridge area on Saturday morning and was questioned at Lurgan Station, was released on bail.

A 24-year-old man has already appeared in court charged with his murder on Thursday of last week.

The court was told the cause of death was a blow to the back of the head, possibly caused by Mr McDonagh falling after he was attacked.

The funeral of James McDonagh, in Coalisland today

The funeral of James McDonagh, in Coalisland today

Three other men, who were also being questioned in connection with Mr McDonagh’s death, have been released on bail.

It is understood the victim had been living in Castledawson but has family members from the Coalisland area.

Parish priest, Father Paul Byrne told mourners “today we gather in complete dismay and sadness, even in a state of shock and anger that Jim has been taken from us”.

“His young life cut so short in tragic circumstances – circumstances that should have and could have been avoided.

“Violence has become too easy and too acceptable. Respect needs to be re-established in our world. Respect for human dignity, respect for human rights, respect for freedom, respect for life.”

Father Byrne also told mourners it can be hard “to see the plan of God in the midst of the brutality which confronts us in this

moment”.

“But in this Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis, we are reminded that God the Father is merciful and forgiving,” he added.

“His door of mercy, as we can see here in our church, is always open. He pleads with us to show that same mercy to

those who have hurt is and have inflicted pain upon us.”

In his homily Father Byrne also reminded mourners that ‘Jim’ will be “with God as Christ has promised”.

“Although his death has come so abruptly and at such a young age, we believe in the hope of eternal life and eternal peace. Nothing and no-one can ever harm him again. But the pain of his loss will throb in the hearts of his wife, Christina,

his children, James and Patrick, in the hearts of his parents and sisters and brothers along with the entire family circle.”

Mr McDonagh was buried afterwards in the parish cemetery.

Mourners carried his remains, led by a piper from the Church of the Holy Family to the cemetery led by a piper in what has been described as a “dignified service”.