The village of Cloughoge came to a standstill yesterday as hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of tragic hit-and-run victim Kevin Bell.
The champion Irish dancer died after being run over in New York last week.
Members of the local GAA club formed a guard of honour as his coffin was carried into Sacred Heart church for midday mass.
Mourners, including Kevin's father Collie and sister Ciara, wore red, the colour of his beloved Down Gaelic football team.
The popular 26-year-old (pictured right) moved to America last year searching for construction work.
He had left a bar in New York’s Upper West Side when he was struck down. Police in the city are currently searching for the hit-and-run driver.
Kevin's body arrived back in Northern Ireland on Wednesday ahead of his funeral.
After hearing about his death family and friends rallied around and raised £42,000 to pay for its repatriation.
The first fundraiser took place last Tuesday and included a quiz and auction.
Heartbroken Collie Bell paid tribute to those who have helped out.
He said: “We, the Bell family are so grateful to all those who are organising events and fundraisers to support us in this terrible time.
“We would like it to be known that we intend to continue to fundraise in the future, in Kevin’s name, and that all surplus money will be used to help families who are visited by similar tragedies. We know that Kevin will not be the last.”
Among those who donated was Down GAA star Benny Coulter who auctioned his county jersey for the cause.
Kevin’s brother-in-law Paul McParland praised the support of friends and family at such a difficult time. He said: “There’s been a huge amount of support from the local community and all over the world.”
Meanwhile, health chiefs in New York are investigating claims Kevin Bell's body was put among bottle-filled recycling bags after its recovery.
A spokesman for the Medical Examiners' officer confirmed a driver had been suspended.