A priest has told mourners at the funeral of tragic toddler Ronan McGavigan that he had been “full of love and joy”.
Hundreds attended the funeral for the youngster at St Columba’s Long Tower Catholic Church in Londonderry.
Earlier this week Republic of Ireland international footballer, James McClean, donated £1,000 to help pay for Ronan’s funeral.
The Londonderry footballer had grown up close to where the McGavigan family now live.
Little Ronan died on Sunday afternoon after being involved in a collision with a car outside his home on the Lone Moor Road,
A horse-drawn glass carriage led the funeral procession from close to where he died.
Funeral wreaths placed inside the hearse spelt out ‘Ro-Ro’.
A little teddy bear was tied to the roof of the hearse in a poignant reminder of his innocence.
Father Eamon Graham told mourners during the service that the tragedy which claimed the toddler’s life “seemed so unfair and so hard to explain”.
“I’m very conscious that nothing I say is in any way going to ease the terrible burden, and our presence here speaks more importantly than anything any of us might say,” he said.
The Catholic cleric said the focus now was on supporting Ronan’s family.
“This is for you the most difficult of times, the hardest burden any family, any parents could be asked to carry,” he said.
“Last Sunday was a lovely day and it was a great delight to see and hear children playing.
“Nothing on a day like that could be more joyful and more uplifting. Yet in an instant that day of happiness was turned upside down and poor Ronan lost his life.
“I know I speak for the family when I say they greatly appreciate the help that the emergency services and medical people gave on Sunday. Sadly it wasn’t enough but it was appreciated.”
Fr Graham added: “I think all of us in the past few days have come to know the character Ronan was.
“He was only two and a half years old yet he was full of love; full of joy and with a good helping of rascality.
“Laura told me on Sunday that any time she told him off, he would come over and say he loved her, just to be sure he won her round again.
“We know that he was a great character and he did so much good in his short life.”
He said that the family have been overwhelmed by the support, kindness and love they have received.
“Amidst all this sadness, that help and support has been a very bright light, a light of kindness in the most difficult and darkest of times,” he said.
Fr Graham said that the tragedy had touched people’s hearts far and wide and included a member of the evangelical clergy from the Shankill Road in Belfast who had been in touch to say their congregation had been praying for little Ronan and his family this week.
The toddler was later buried in the City Cemetery.