Northern Ireland

Noah Donohoe funeral hears of 'tangible sense of shock'

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Media captionThe funeral of missing teenager Noah Donohoe takes place in St Patrick's church in Belfast.

Mourners at the funeral of schoolboy Noah Donohoe have heard how "a tangible sense of shock and disbelief has gripped the community" since the news of his death emerged.

The body of the missing Belfast teenager was found in a storm drain in north Belfast last Saturday.

He had been missing since Sunday, 21 June.

A small, private funeral service was held at St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street in Belfast.

In his homily, Fr Michael McGinnity said that since his body was discovered, many people have been "consumed by a sadness that cannot be put into words".

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Image caption Noah's mother Fiona, aunts Shona and Niamh, and their wider family circle led the cortège

Addressing Noah's mother, he said: "Countless people across Belfast and far beyond it... are holding you, Fiona, and your family in their thoughts and prayers.

"People everywhere are united in their heart-felt sympathy towards you and the wider family circle."

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He added: "None of us can begin to imagine the depth of your sorrow and the visceral depth of your grief.

"At the same time, we gather here, very conscious of your gratitude to so many people who have reached out to you as a family in your hour of need."

Fr McGinnity paid tribute to those "who took to the streets from across the community, day after day, in search of Noah".

"We also remember the police and rescue teams who were relentless in their efforts to find him," he said.

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Media captionThe Donohoe family say a clip of Noah playing the guitar on Mother's Day is how he should be remembered.

Noah's school friends attended a prayer service at St Malachy's College during the funeral.

After the funeral at St Patrick's, his funeral cortege made its way to the school, a place where Noah "loved and was loved" according to a statement on behalf of the family.

Larger crowds had gathered making social distancing difficult.

The cortege proceeded up and down the school's entrance avenue, while students formed a guard of honour.

Image caption The cortege entered St Malachy's College after the funeral

Fr McGinnity said they too were "united in heart-felt sympathy for Noah's family".

"We also hold in our hearts today Noah's friends as they come to terms with their devastating loss. We remember the messages they sent to Noah's family, and the many tributes they paid to Noah on social media and across the airwaves.

Image caption Mourners entering St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street

"Those messages and tributes have been a source of immense comfort to Noah's heartbroken family."

Quiet streets as funeral makes its way

by Catherine Morrison, BBC News NI

Ahead of the service, Noah's St Malachy's school friends and members of the basketball team he played for walked alongside the hearse and provided a guard of honour at St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street.

His mother Fiona, aunts Shona and Niamh, and their wider family circle led the cortège.

People lined the street outside, including some of the volunteers from the Shore Road who had helped search for Noah.

The only sound was the bells of St Patrick's as the cortège passed by.

In his death notice, Noah's family said his "beautiful, pure young soul fills the hearts of his mother Fiona, his aunts Niamh and Shona, their beautiful children and his uncle Gearoid".

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Image caption Noah had been missing for almost a week

It added: "He comforts his grandparents Margot, Gerry and Linda and his beautiful, strong friends. He will be safe in the hugs of his aunt Siobhan in heaven."

In a tribute to those who helped to search for the schoolboy, the message added: "Noah's love was great enough to reach the selfless hearts of north Belfast and beyond as they showed overwhelming compassion and empathy in bringing Noah home. Love has no boundaries."

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Image caption Noah Donohoe's mother, Fiona, asked parents to embrace their children during the funeral

A number of family members attended a vigil in north Belfast on Sunday evening.

They released 14 blue balloons, in memory of Noah.

People clapped as the Community Rescue Service volunteers who looked for him walked past.

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Image caption People showed their appreciation for the search teams who looked for Noah

Noah's school said it was "blessed to have had such an outstanding student and person as a most valued member of our family".

St Malachy's College said Noah's "caring nature, calm demeanour and big smile were some of his great gifts that helped others do their best".

Image caption Floral tributes left at the gates of St Malachy’s College on Saturday

The school said that Noah was a talented musician and keen rugby and basketball player.

He also received a number of awards in his three years at the school, including The Spirit of the College Award, full attendance and class prizes.

"We are all deeply saddened at Noah's passing away, and we offer prayers for and support to his mother, Fiona, family members, friends and also his extended family - all of us associated with St Malachy's College," the statement added.

"Noah will always be a treasured member of our Malachian family."

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