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Noah Donohoe poured 'lifetime of love' into 14 years, funeral told

Mourners at the funeral of tragic schoolboy Noah Donohoe on Wednesday heard he was “a beautiful soul with a beautiful mind who poured a lifetime of love into 14 short years”.

Those were the moving words his grieving mother Fiona shared with the priest who said Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church in central Belfast.

The body of the 14-year-old was found in an underground storm drain in north Belfast six days after he failed to return home. His disappearance on Sunday, June 21 sparked one of the most intensive searches for a missing person in Northern Ireland’s history.

Father Michael McGinnity revealed to the small congregation at the private family funeral that Fiona, who was accompanied by parents Gerry and Margo and sisters Niamh and Shona, had told him how fortunate she felt to have had even such a short time with her beloved son.

Mourners gather at private funeral of schoolboy Noah Donohoe Close

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Sergeant Craig McDowell salutes as the funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Sergeant Craig McDowell salutes as the funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

“She said: ‘I have been so blessed. Noah was a beautiful soul with a beautiful mind’,” said the priest.

“He poured a whole lifetime of love into my life in 14 short years.”

Father McGinnity, who led the 11am service at the church where Strabane native Fiona had first brought her son as a child, said the gifted pupil, celloist and basketball player had met life “with a sense of wonder at everything around him and in him”.

“He had a natural curiosity about life,” the priest said.

“Every day he wanted to know more about the world and his place in it.

“Noah was the kind of boy who was just full of the joy of living.”

Noah Donohoe

Addressing Noah’s mother directly, the priest said her young son’s tragic death had brought “a tangible sense of shock and disbelief” that gripped people in “Belfast and far beyond it.”

“Today, there are countless people holding you, Fiona, and your family in their thoughts and prayers,” he said.

“So many people are consumed by a sadness that cannot be put into words.”

Prior to the service, Fiona had encouraged other parents to bring their children along to line the route and say goodbye to a young south Belfast man Fr McGinnity described in his homily as “a natural leader who wanted everyone to appreciate their own gifts and talents.”

Close

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

And come they did – thousands of them - on Donegall Street leading up to the church prior to the service and on the Antrim Road afterwards.

They witnessed a hearse bearing Noah's white coffin and a bouquet of lillies and displaying a now familiar picture of him and his mother in happier times.

We are very conscious of your gratitude to so many people who have reached out to you as a family in your hour of need. Fr McGinnity

Noah Peter Donohoe, who would have turned 15 in November, was Fiona’s only child, and in a poignant message posted on social media she urged parents to “embrace and cherish” their children “for every moment with them is precious”.

Fr McGinnity said: “None of us can begin to imagine the depth of your sorrow and the visceral depth of your grief.

“At the same time, we are very conscious of your gratitude to so many people who have reached out to you as a family in your hour of need.

“We think today of people from across the community who took to the streets, day after day, in search of Noah. We also remember the police and rescue teams who were relentless in their efforts to find him.

“During the says of searching, his family were also conscious of being carried by the prayers of so many people. We remember them with gratitude today.”

After Mass the cortege, which was en route to Roselawn cemetery, made a brief stop at St Malachy’s College on the Antrim Road, where Noah, described in the homily as someone who carried his potential “so lightly and so humbly,” was a Year 10 student.

Pupils and teachers lined the avenue leading up the school to pay their respects.

The gates of the school have become an impromptu shrine to its lost boy, with the iron work festooned with flowers, candles and messages of sympathy.

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The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The funeral of Noah Donohoe takes place in Belfast on July 1st 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Earlier, Fr McGinnity said Noah’s grieving friends and schoolmates were also in the family’s thoughts.

“Indeed, right now, students from Noah’s form class are attending a prayer service... together they will be remembering the joy and goodness that he brought into the lives of so many.

“We remember the messages they sent to Noah’s family, and the many tributes they paid on social media and across the airwaves. Those messages and tributes have been a source of immense comfort.

As a natural leader he wanted everyone to appreciate their own gifts and talents.

“One of his close friends said on social media during the week, ‘Noah had so much potential in everything he did’.

“What endeared him to his friends was the fact that he carried that potential so lightly and so humbly. As a natural leader he wanted everyone to appreciate their own gifts and talents.

“More than that, he wanted them to find the joy in living that he had found.”

Pastor Brian Madden, one of the many mourners, is said to have been a source of comfort for Fiona and her family during the dark days when no one had any idea of what had happened Noah.

Even the detective leading the investigation, Superintendent Muir Clark, said it was one of the strangest missing persons cases he had ever come across in his 30-year career.

The initial theory – that Noah had fallen off his bicycle, suffered a head injury and had been left confused and disorientated – turned out to be tragically accurate.

His black Apollo mountain bike was recovered by Karen Crooks, a classroom assistant from north Belfast, on the evening he disappeared but not reported to police until the following day.

Ms Crooks, a mother-of-three, believed the bicycle belonged to a local child and admitted her “heart sank” when she read a post on social media about a young boy who was riding a similar bike when he disappeared.

It’s believed Noah entered the storm drain behind her Northwood Road property.

The teenager had travelled from his home in the lower Ormeau area and was last seen on the Shore Road in north Belfast before he went missing.

His body was found on the morning of Saturday, June 27.

During the funeral service, Fr McGinnity revealed that Noah had recently given his mother a copy of a poem written by Leo Buscaglia which contained the words:

“To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying,

To hope is to risk despair

To try is to risk failure ... the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

Belfast Telegraph