The teenage boy who collapsed at school on Tuesday and later died was a “much-loved and highly respected” pupil at Armagh City High, the school has said.
A tribute to 16-year-old John Irwin posted on Facebook said: “We at City of Armagh High School mourn the sudden death of John Irwin, one of our year 12 pupils. John was a much-loved and highly respected member of our school community who will be missed by all of us.”
The school added: “We are deeply saddened by this great loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s family at this tragic time, we extend to them our sincerest sympathy and support.”
Grieving friends paid their own tributes to the fun-loving pupil.
“Cannot believe my wee John is gone. A best friend to everyone, such a wee sweetheart,” one said.
Another message posted on Facebook said: “He always came into school with a smile and his head held high. John was a person who always cheered you up, he will never be forgotten. School will be a little quiet but in our hearts John is always there.”
In a message for John’s family, another friend said: “There is nothing we can say that will make you feel any better but with your Christian faith you will get through this. Not in a million years do you think you will bury your child.”
John died on the day former City of Armagh pupil Lesley-Ann McCarragher was buried following a weekend road tragedy.
Referencing the death of the 19-year-old student – who was struck by a car during a hit-and-run incident on the Monaghan Road – another Facebook user said: “Devastating week for the school and our city as a whole. Thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by these tragic events.”
DUP outgoing MLA William Irwin extended his “deepest sympathy” to the entire family circle, and said: “This is absolutely tragic and my thoughts and prayers are with the Irwin family at what is a really awful time for them. For a child to go to school and that be the last time the family see him alive, words just cannot describe the grief.”
Danny Kennedy of the Ulster Unionists said people had been left “stunned” at news of John’s death.
“This is devastating news for a well-known and respected family in this area, and I want to offer my sincere sympathy to the entire Irwin and Frazer families, who I know well,” he said.