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It was privilege just to have him with us... principal pays tribute to late pupil of school rocked by two deaths in week

The principal of an Armagh school hit by tragedy twice in the past week has said they will never forget their popular and entrepreneurial pupil John Irwin who died suddenly.

Today the funeral will take place of the 16-year-old at St John's Church of Ireland in Middletown, Co Armagh.

John's death came just two days after 19-year-old Lesley-Ann McCarragher was killed in a hit-and-run. She was a former pupil of John's City of Armagh High School.

John died after collapsing in class on Wednesday, just days after he, his friends and family celebrated his birthday.

In tribute the school has held special assemblies for the Year 12 pupil to help his fellow classmates come to terms with the sudden loss.

His principal, David Livingstone, described John - a prefect in the school - as a popular young man held in the highest regard by teachers and his fellow pupils.

"John's outstanding good nature and determination will always be remembered in City of Armagh High School," he said.

"The staff and pupils in City of Armagh High School have experienced shock and disbelief as they come to terms with the passing of John.

"The Irwin family has a long association with City of Armagh High School and John's mother, Diane, is a member of the Board of Governors.

"Our hearts go out to her, John's father Keith, sisters Ruth and Rachel, brothers James and William and the entire family circle."

Mr Livingstone described John as a having an entrepreneurial spirit with an interest in farming and had considered a career in butchery.

"John was a popular young man," he continued, "and was held in the highest regard by his teachers and fellow pupils alike. He will be greatly missed by all, particularly those within his form class.

"John possessed many fine qualities. He was patient, kind, courteous and polite.

"He always saw the good in others and was keen to help and support those who were in difficulty.

"He worked extremely hard at every task he undertook. His qualities led to John being appointed prefect, a role which he approached with enthusiasm.

"John was in his element when involved in practical work and being outdoors.

"He had a real passion for farming - particularly sheep farming. This interest also helped develop his entrepreneurial and business skills.

"John was actively involved in making plans for his future, hoping to pursue a career in butchery alongside his farming activities.

"It was indeed a privilege to have him as one of our pupils, all our lives have been enriched by knowing him."

Former City of Armagh School pupil Lesley-Ann McCarragher died last Sunday after she was hit by a car while out jogging.

She was described as a "wonderful young woman" and Mr Livingstone said the school had fond memories of her.

A 17-year-old boy has appeared in court accused of her killing in the hit-and-run.

Belfast Telegraph