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Crash tragedy schoolboy Conall O'Hare 'irreplaceable' - family's moving tribute to Castlewellan teen

By Victoria Leonard

The family of a Castlewellan teenager who lost his life in a car crash just days after his 18th birthday have paid tribute to their "big-hearted, caring, irreplaceable" son.

Conall O'Hare, who was a Year 14 A-level student at St Patrick's Grammar School in Downpatrick, died after a single-vehicle collision on the Ballydugan Road outside Downpatrick on Tuesday night.

Police are appealing for witnesses after the Peugeot 207 he was driving crashed close to the Lake Road junction at around 10.30pm.

The young man's friends from St Patrick's Grammar School will form a guard of honour at his funeral, which will take place at St Patrick's Church, Bryansford tomorrow morning.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Conall's aunt, Nora McMahon, described him as a "lovely, helpful, thoughtful and caring" young man who was hoping to go to Queen's University to study Economics and Business Studies in September.

"It been very hard, especially for his mum Linda. Conall only turned 18 a week and a half ago and to go from such a lovely occasion to burying him is a total shock," she said.

"Conall was the most perfect nephew, he was a great young fella who was family-orientated.

"Everything was going well for him. He was doing his A-levels. He was very intelligent, he was hoping to go to Queen's and he wanted to get three As. He had talked to me about going to university several times.

"He was very excited as he wanted to be an accountant and he was planning to move up to Belfast. It would have been his first time away from home.

"He had played for Newcastle Football Club's junior team for 10 years but when he started his A-levels he decided to focus on them instead, he was very focused and responsible. He was all chuffed as he had been offered a job in Subway to save up for university."

Nora said that Conall, who was a massive Liverpool fan, was devoted to his family and pets.

"He was very protective of his mum and sister, he was the man of the house," Nora continued.

"He only had one sister, Shannon, who is a year older than him and he totally idolised her. She mothered him a bit and they had been enjoying spending time together.

"He was really good to his granny, he sat for two-and-a-half hours eating Easter eggs with her last Saturday, he was a lovely lad."

Pictures of Conall celebrating his 18th birthday on Sunday, April 9, just nine days before the crash, show him surrounded by his family and friends. He is seen smiling and blowing out the candles on a Liverpool Football Club-themed cake.

Nora says the community has gathered round to support the grieving family as they come to terms with their loss.

"We have had a lot of supportive messages, and Linda is really looking forward to seeing Conall's friends coming up to the house," she said.

"She will get comfort from them and also offer them a bit of comfort as they are all so young.

"It's something very difficult but his mum wants to do him proud. We will never be able to replace him."

In a social media statement, St Patrick's Grammar School, where Conall's mum Linda previously worked, said it was "devastated to learn of the untimely and tragic death" of their pupil.

"We would like to offer our most heartfelt condolences to the entire family circle, especially his mum Linda, our former colleague, and his many friends, at this heartbreaking time," they added.

Red High Parents and Friends Association also said that they were "profoundly saddened to learn of the untimely and tragic death" of Conall.

"We would like to offer our most sincere, heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this sad time," they stated.

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