Cancer-hit mum's anguish at sudden death of student son Stewart (21)
A mother diagnosed with cancer has spoken of her shock at the sudden death of her only son two days after Christmas.
Student Stewart Irwin (21) – who was training to be a teacher at Stranmillis University in Belfast – was found dead at his family home in Co Fermanagh.
His mother Evelyn and father Bryson, who live on Tattynuckle Road, near Fivemiletown, said they were devastated to be facing 2014 without a young man who brought them so much joy.
"Stewart was our only son and was the apple of our eye," Mrs Irwin said. "We have endless photographs and endless memories.
"He never gave us a bit of bother from the day and hour he was born. He looked after us and was a great son. He was always here for us and we can't believe that he is gone. I can't even explain it, we are just heartbroken.
"He was a wonderful son for the 21-and-a-half years that he was on this Earth," she added. "And I know that he is now an angel in heaven."
Mrs Irwin has been diagnosed with cancer, something her son was helping her to deal with.
"It hasn't been a good time at all. I am receiving treatment for the cancer at the moment. Stewart was here for me, he was surely. He told me that I would get better, and it was all good," she said.
The grieving mother said she will treasure the family's last moments with Stewart over Christmas.
"We had Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day together. It was marvellous, just marvellous. We didn't notice anything wrong, he was his usual self, he was just perfect. He spent so much time with us and we had a great time. We will never forget those moments," she added.
Mrs Irwin described Stewart as a great communicator and friend who could have talked to anybody young or old, which was evident by his popularity at Berty's Spar in Fivemiletown, where he worked weekends from 16.
"You only have to speak to the people in the shop where he worked and they would tell you that he could relate to anybody," she said.
At his funeral service at St John's Church in Fivemiletown on Monday, the Rev Kyle Hanlon comforted mourners, telling them about the young man who enjoyed life and the people in it.
A huge number of people attended the funeral and the church filled up fast, with many standing outside and many more reflecting in the nearby parish hall.
On Facebook, Stewart's friends shared their affection for him.
Lyle Williamson wrote: "Such an emotional day for the Fivemiletown community. The crowd gathered at the church today just shows how much of an amazing and loved fella you were."
Samantha Anderson wrote: "Keep smiling up there Stewart, you absolute gentleman."
And John Williams wrote: "We will never forget you."
The cause of Mr Irwin's death is not yet known.
"We have endless photographs and endless memories. He never gave us a bit of bother from the day and hour he was born. He looked after us and was a great son. He was always here for us and we can't believe that he is gone. He was a wonderful son for the 21-and-a-half years that he was on this Earth."
Evelyn Irwin, whose son Stewart (right) died two days after Christmas