Belfast Telegraph

Teen footballer James Grant, who died after asthma attack an exceptional person, mourners told

The Order of Service for James Grant who died of an Asthma attack
The Order of Service for James Grant who died of an Asthma attack

By Claire O’Boyle

Tributes have been paid to a young football player from Co Down who died suddenly from an asthma attack.

James Grant (17) died at his home in Atticall near Kilkeel on Thursday.

His funeral was held yesterday at St Colman's Church, Massforth, Kilkeel.

Parish priest Father Sean Dillon conducted the requiem mass.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Fr Dillon said: "It's been absolutely shocking. Losing James has been an absolute tragedy for the community and for everyone involved.

"He was a much-loved young man, a 17-year-old with everything to live for. When something like this happens it goes against our expectations.

"The death of any young person, no matter what age, is desperately upsetting because you expect a parent to be carried to the grave by their children, not vice versa.

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"James was a young man filled with personality. And in everything he did he was extremely considerate of others. He didn't have to be prompted to do things, he'd have seen something needed to be done and he'd carry on quite discreetly.

"He was quite an exceptional person, and he packed more into his 17 years than many of us could ever do in three score years and 10."

Fr Dillon told how the timing of the young sportsman's death has added to the sense of sorrow in James' community.

"That we're so close to Christmas adds a certain poignancy, naturally," said Fr Dillon. "It's a time of year families hope and expect to be together.

"Where we are, up in the heart of the Mournes, we have such a beautiful landscape. I told in my homily of the beautiful stone walls in the Mournes. When you look at them from a distance you'll sometimes notice a very stark gap along the walls, one that exists and isn't filled.

"For grieving families that is how it can be. The gap is created by the loss of someone loved so well as young James was, and that gap will not be filled.

"It will be left empty in order to keep alive the love the family have for the person they've lost. The whole community is thinking of the family, his parents Helene and John and siblings Emma, Aaron and Michael, and of the wonderful young man they have lost."

Over the weekend James' Gaelic football club, Atticall GAC, paid tribute to the under-20 and minor player.

In a post shared on Facebook, the club said: "James was a talented footballer with a promising career ahead of him. Thoughts and prayers are with James' family, friends, club mates and all in Atticall GAA."

His former primary school Holy Cross in Atticall also sent its condolences to the young man's family.

A tribute said: "James was a pupil who will always be remembered for his infectious smile and laughter. This news has shaken our entire community. We will keep James, his entire family circle and all of his friends in our prayers."

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