The Requiem Mass at St Mary’s Church in Kildress on Thursday was led by Father Paddy Hughes who baptised Ronan shortly after he was born and celebrated his First Holy Communion just over a year ago.
The schoolboy’s little white coffin arrived at the church from the family home at noon on Thursday before loved ones placed sentimental items on the altar “that represented Ronan during his short life”.
They included a Tyrone GAA jersey, a pair of football boots, a mobile phone, X-Box controller and a toy lorry.
Family photographs “of happier times together on holiday” were also among the items.
A blue lorry with pictures of Ronan carried his coffin to and from the funeral service.
A message printed on the lorry said: “My wee Roro. My main man, my hero, my soul. Roro was the best son anyone could ask for. Nine years of pure pleasure.”
Ronan had been visiting Bundoran in Co Donegal when he was struck by a vehicle on Saturday evening at Atlantic Way.
A man has been charged with three offences in connection with the incident including failing to stop.
Fr Hughes told mourners – including Ronan’s heartbroken parents Emma and Dean and siblings Calum and Amy – that it is “hard to accept and comprehend” the sudden loss of life.
Fr Hughes recalled how Ronan was “so proud” to carry a football to the altar celebrating the first school Mass just last Monday.
“I said ‘can you play football?’ and the smile went even bigger,” he said.
“He was the double of his daddy – the carrying of the football summed up so much of his character in life.
“He so loved life, he loved football and he was so proud to get man of the match last year.”
Classmates and teachers from St Mary’s Primary School and teammates from Kildress Wolfe Tones attended the emotional service.
Fr Hughes said Ronan “followed in his father’s footsteps” hence his love of lorries.
“He could chat to anyone – he mixed well with his class and was very kind.”
The clergyman urged family members to keep Ronan’s memory alive as he admitted the entire parish is “lost for words” in the aftermath of the “terrible loss”.
“When words fail us, just being there speaks volumes, he added.
“That presence of people, young and old, being there to help in any way they can is so evident.
“On behalf of Dean and Emma and all the family, I say thank you for being there for them.”Loved ones said prayers for Ronan’s grieving family and friends as they endure the “darkest moments” and expressed hope that the young boy has been reunited with his late grandmother Collette.
“Ronan will live on in the hearts of his family, in their memories of him and love for him,” Fr Hughes said.
“Death cannot rob you of that.”
The principal of St Mary’s Primary School Eileen Ward, described the popular pupil as being small in stature, but big in personality.
“There are special people in our lives who never leave us even after they are gone,” she said.
“He was a character, of that no one would argue… everybody loved Ronan.”
The headteacher said the young boy was “a great friend to all” and educated staff at the school about the things that really matter.
“He taught us how to embrace life and be happy,” Ms Ward added.
“He taught us the importance of friendship, how to laugh and have fun.
Following the service Ronan’s remains were taken to the adjoining cemetery to be laid to rest.Tags: