St Mary's pupils form guard of honour as tragic Stephen McElroy is laid to rest
Friends of 11-year-old Stephen McElroy who tragically died after an illness at the weekend have formed a guard of honour at his funeral.
Fellow pupils from St Mary's Primary School in Ballyward, near Castlewellan, Co Down, along with members of local GAA club Laitroim Fontenoys and Rathfriland Football Club youth team, were among the hundreds of mourners who gathered yesterday.
At St Patrick's Church, Gargory, outside Banbridge, Father Peter O'Neill described Stephen, from Ballyward, as an "excellent young man".
"Words are inadequate and no word could make right the death of a child, the death of a beloved," he said.
"He was an excellent young man with so much energy. He had pure energy and joy."
Fr O'Neill said he knew the P7 pupil from both his home and school life and from acting as an altar server. He said his parents Paul and Pattie were being comforted by the community and by parents who had experienced a similar loss.
Family member Karen Power said: "He had just got an A in his transfer test and was due to start St Colman's in September.
"He was an extremely intelligent wee boy.
"Apart from football he loved helping his dad out on the farm, especially now when it is lambing season."
It is understood Stephen died after feeling unwell on Saturday.
He was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry but died on Sunday. The cause of his death is yet to be confirmed.
Principal of St Mary's Primary School Brian Doyle described Stephen as an "outstanding pupil".
Mr Doyle said: "His class friends have been reminiscing about his many special talents and also about the kindness and consideration that he always showed for others."