Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon school pupils battling grief after losing classmates in disco crush

Connor Currie and Morgan Barnard
Connor Currie and Morgan Barnard

A Dungannon school has revealed how it is helping pupils and staff deal with their grief after two pupils were killed in a crush at a disco on St Patrick's Day.

Lauren Bullock (17) from Donaghmore, Morgan Barnard (17) and Connor Currie (16), both from Dungannon, died following the crush at the Greenvale Hotel as crowds of young people waited to gain entry to the venue on Sunday night.

Connor and Morgan were students at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, while Lauren attended St Patrick's College.

St Patrick's Academy opened their doors to the BBC to show how students are being offered help and support in the wake of their classmate's deaths.

Teachers are speaking out about their feelings and memories of Connor and Morgan in an attempt to encourage their pupils to do the same.

English teacher Robert Devlin taught Connor Currie and shared his memories of him with other pupils. 

"Small moments like his daily routine of simply saying 'thanks Sir' as he walked out the door and he never missed. A small and seemingly insignificant couple of words, but ones that meant so much to this teacher," he told pupils

"A couple of weeks ago he stated casually on his way out the door 'if the UK had Lady Macbeth instead of Theresa May they would have had Brexit sorted out months ago'."

"I loved that about him, very clever, small moments that shone a light on his individuality."

Morgan Barnard's Irish teacher Mary Coyle said he had been a pleasure to teach.

Students from Holy Trinity College leave floral tributes outside The Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in Northern Ireland following the deaths of three teenagers, Lauren Bullock, Connor Currie, and Morgan Barnard, at a St Patrick’s Day party.
Students from Holy Trinity College leave floral tributes outside The Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in Northern Ireland following the deaths of three teenagers, Lauren Bullock, Connor Currie, and Morgan Barnard, at a St Patrick’s Day party.

"Morgan had a big heart and he had a big smile and he loved Irish, and that made my job very pleasant," she told the BBC.

"He had catchphrases, one of them was 'fadhb ar bith' (no problem), I'll always think of Morgan when I think of that phrase. Nothing was a problem to Morgan."

Mrs Coyle said that pupils were still coming to terms with their loss.

"A lot of our Year 12 and Year 13 students were actually at the event and they are reliving the event," she said.

"They all felt incredibly lucky, if that's the right word to say, that it wasn't them, and also feeling severe grief for the loss of their friends.

"I think it was pretty harrowing what they saw and they are just having to talk through that."

The remains of Morgan Barnard are returned to the family home in Springdale, Dungannon,
yesterday
The remains of Morgan Barnard are returned to the family home in Springdale, Dungannon, yesterday

Counselling is also being provided to pupils at the school through group and one to one sessions.

Art psychotherapist Jean Gascoigne said it was important that students dealt with their trauma and grief.

"We're still in the early stages of trauma, we are experiencing a number of students who are just totally frozen," she said.

"If we don't help the students at this point, with this level of truama and it gets pasted over, these students will potentially have long-term health difficulties."

Funerals for Connor and Morgan will take place in their native Dungannon on Friday.

A funeral for Morgan Barnard will be held at his home in Dungannon followed by Requiem Mass at St Patrick's Church in Dungannon for 10am. He will be buried in Carland Road cemetery.

The funeral of Connor Currie will also be held in his Dungannon home followed by Requiem Mass at 2pm at St Malachy's Church in Edendork before burial in the adjoining graveyard.

Lauren Bullock will be laid to rest after a funeral from her late residence in Donaghmore at 10.30am, followed by Mass in St Patrick's Church in Donaghmore at 11am.

Police have arrested two men on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the teenager's deaths.

Greenvale Hotel owner Michael McElhatton was released on police bail on Wednesday pending further questioning.

A 40-year-old man remains in police custody.

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