Heartbreaking final farewell to boy (2) hit by car while out playing in sun
Tearful mourners pay last respects as mum and dad carry little Ronan's white coffin
Hundreds of tearful mourners gathered in a church in Londonderry yesterday for the funeral service of a toddler killed in a traffic accident.
Two majestic black horses took the remains of two-year-old Ronan McGavigan in a glass hearse to St Columb's Church for a Mass of the Angels.
The little boy died on Sunday after being knocked down outside his Lone Moor Road home.
Led by Ronan's heartbroken parents, mourners filled the church where Fr Eamon Graham said the impact of the boy's death had reached far and wide and prayers were being said for him this week right across Northern Ireland.
Many floral tributes lined the interior of the hearse, which was dominated by a display that spelled 'Ro Ro', the family's pet name for Ronan.
Mass of the Angels is said in Catholic churches for children because, as Fr Graham explained to the congregation, a little child that dies will go straight to Heaven and will not therefore need a Requiem Mass.
Before asking mourners to pause for a few moments to reflect on their own thoughts and memories of Ronan, Fr Graham recalled: "It was just over two years since Ronan's mother Laura carried him into this church to be baptised and it was only a few weeks ago the family gathered for a First Communion. Today, Laura carried Ronan back to this church for his funeral. It seems so hard and so unfair."
Five younger members of the family, including Ronan's brothers, carried up the offertory gifts to the altar. Among them was a soft teddy bear with angel wings attached and a photograph of Ronan.
In his homily Fr Graham said being present with the family was more important than anything that anyone might say to try and ease the terrible burden they were facing.
He added: "Last Sunday was a lovely sunny day and it was a great delight to see and hear children playing, nothing could be more joyful or more uplifting. Yet in an instant, that day of happiness was turned upside down and little Ronan lost his life.
"I think over the past few days we have gotten to know the character Ronan was, full of love, full of joy and with a good helping of rascality which endeared him to all. But he managed to do so much good in his short life.
"I know the family have been overwhelmed by the support, kindness and love they have received from friend and stranger alike. They are most grateful for this bright light of kindness in the midst of this most difficult and darkest of times.
"I had a phone call from a friend of mine in the Shankill Road who is involved in the evangelical church there and he asked me to tell everyone here today that Ronan was prayed for at his church - that's the kind of reach Ronan had.
"At a deeper level, the life and death of Ronan had a profound effect; many of us have looked at our own lives and asked 'how can I be a better person?'.
"Many people have reached the hand of friendship that in the past would have been held back, that is Ronan's work, a work that will continue always.
"The love that he gave and received will not end and whether our faith is strong or weak, we ask ourselves: why do these things happen, where was God?
"There are no easy answers, but we can see the goodness of Ronan's short life, the goodness that continues."
After the cortege left it made its way to Derry City Cemetery where balloons were released by Ronan's sister and brothers, as well as two white doves.