Sense of numbness and disbelief as Joshua Kelly (6) is laid to rest

Joshua Michael Kelly died on January 20. He was the son of Clare and Michael, and brother of Saoirse
Joshua Michael Kelly died on January 20. He was the son of Clare and Michael, and brother of Saoirse

Half-a-dozen clerics were involved in the funeral of a six-year-old boy who died following a road accident last week.

Pedestrian Joshua Kelly, a pupil of St Finian’s Primary School in Newtownards, died after being struck by the vehicle on Scrabo Road in the town on Wednesday afternoon.

His funeral in Portaferry, at the southern tip of the Ards peninsula, on Saturday.

Among those present was Portaferry SDLP councillor Joe Boyle, who described an air of “disbelief” after the death.

He said the child had only recently moved to his home in Newtownards’ Scrabo Road area, and that his family connections lay in Portaferry.

He happened to have passed the accident about half-an-hour after it had unfolded last week, and the following day had attended the home of one of his grandmothers in Portaferry upon learning what had happened.

Councillor Boyle said: “The people I spoke to were grieving very, very badly, so they were. Totally in a state of shock, maybe bordering on disbelief that this was actually taking place.”

On Saturday, the funeral procession set out from the house on the edge of Portaferry, walking for around 30 minutes on the roughly half-mile route to St Patrick’s chapel in the town.

In an unusual move, there were six priests participating in the funeral, including the parish priests of Newtownards and of Portaferry.

“There was such a power of sympathy and comfort to that family, to have six priests,” said the councillor.

“It was just a bit different; you don’t get it like that, you know.”

As they had made their way through the town the PSNI had helped manage the traffic, and that there had been a quiet atmosphere as they proceeded to the chapel,” with councillor Boyle saying the place was in “just a state of numbness – kind of: ‘Are we really walking behind Joshua Kelly here?’”

He also reiterated his sympathies for the driver of the vehicle who hit the child.

Kieran McCarthy, Alliance Party MLA for Strangford, said: “Nobody can get their heads around it, the loss of a six-year-old boy. Everybody was talking about it, not only in Portaferry but the peninsula itself. The whole of the Ards peninsula is in total sorrow and sadness.”