Stunned villagers gather to pay tribute to heartbroken parents
Spring-like sunshine streamed down on the village of Mayobridge on Sunday – but the death of a toddler cast a dark shadow on the small community.
Business owners Brian and Paula Grant are well known in this area of Co Down and it was clear the tragedy to strike their young son had caused great distress among all who know them.
Friends and loved ones began gathering at their home to offer sympathy and comfort after the devastating news broke that their son Daniel (3) had been killed.
Cars filled the driveway of the family home on Sunday as people gathered to offer condolences.
The shock of the boy's death, who died after becoming tangled in a blind cord, was felt keenly just a short drive away at the busy Costcutter shop owned by the family.
Staff did not want to be named but just said they had been left "devastated" by the news of the toddler's death.
As regular customers popped in to buy their Sunday newspapers or pint of milk, they spoke outside of how they felt the same shock.
"This is the type of place that everyone knows everyone," one woman said.
"There is really just a few shops so Grant's has been here for years, people know the family and the business.
"We are just devastated by the news and has left us shocked and stunned."
Among the customers was Rosmary Greenan (55) from Annaclare. "The Grants are a well known and liked family," she said. "I was just driving my daughter to Newry when two police cars and ambulances sped passed me so quickly in the car.
"You don't see that very often. You just knew something awful had happened.
"When I heard last night your heart just broke."
Another woman said Daniel was seen many times out with his father and siblings. She said: "We would have seen him and the other children just driving about, him in the back of the car while his daddy did messages."
Shaking her head she added: "It doesn't bear thinking about. We still can't believe it is real. But the family will be getting as much support as possible from everyone here."
As the news broke throughout the village hundreds of tributes were also paid on local websites. The shock felt by the community was expressed through the Destination Newry social networking site.
Carleen Branagan posted: "Devastating thoughts and prayers with the family."
Brenda Reeves, meanwhile, described it as "heartbreaking".
And Carrie Crawford posted: "So so sad... prayers for the family."
Another simply said: "R.I.P little one"
Twitter was also used by the public to express their condolences.
Lyndsey Hughes wrote: "Very tragic.
"Makes it more so when it's a little child. God help the family X."