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Star Wars fan Noah Donohoe had gift for drawing: Artist who drew tragic teen as favourite character pays tribute


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Noah Donohoe

Noah Donohoe

Noah

Noah

Barry McGowan

Barry McGowan

Noah Donohoe

An artist who painted schoolboy Noah Donohoe as one of his favourite Star Wars characters says the teenager was a talented illustrator and a promising young man.

Barry McGowan (43), who is also a daycare worker, met Noah and his mum Fiona when the teen began attending an after-school club in Omagh, Co Tyrone, in 2012.

Before the family moved to Belfast in 2013, Barry and other staff at The Hangout in Omagh threw a leaving party for Noah, who sadly was found dead in a north Belfast storm drain last weekend following a six-day search. Police have ruled out foul play in the St Malachy's College pupil's disappearance and death.

Having spent hours sitting and doodling with Noah during his time at the centre Barry felt compelled to present the talented youngster with an extra special gift based on Star Wars' Darth Vader.

He told Sunday Life: "He was a big Star Wars fan and we would talk away about that, we talked about games and stuff too. He would always be interested when I was talking about the stuff I enjoyed as a kid. He was just such a pleasant child.

"When it was time for him to go to Belfast we were very concerned to see them go as they were away to the big city and you would worry about them there.

"Every child gets a wee parting gift if they go and have a wee leaving do but I had such a bond with him I felt I needed to do something more.

"I asked if I could have an extra couple of hours to get ready and took my art materials away with me.

"When his mum came to collect him I presented him with his painting of Darth Donohoe, when he saw it he just went completely quiet and didn't know what to say.

"He was all smiles after a wee moment though, he said how lovely it was and kept saying thank you.

"Fiona loved it too, she would just put it up on Facebook occasionally, they absolutely loved it.

"It was just because he loved Star Wars and I just thought I needed to do something really cool for him, I just really wanted to do something personal for him as a leaving gift. We had it framed and all for him.

"I felt he had a real aptitude for art and was a very promising wee artist, he took his time and had a good eye for detail, he just loved it.

"He showed a lot of interest and promise when he would sit and draw with me, it was a social thing, it was like adults sitting having a cup of tea, it was kinda something to do whilst talking."

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Barry McGowan

Barry McGowan

Barry McGowan

Mr McGowan said he and his ex-colleagues at The Hangout, formerly at the now closed Daycare Juniors on Derry Road, Omagh, were shocked when the 14-year-old went missing and grief-stricken when he was later found dead.

He added: "Hearing the news about what happened was awful, I can't even describe it, I haven't felt grief like that in a long time.

"The other staff from the hangout and I were texting each other back and forth a lot, we were desperate for news.

"On the day before he was found I put up the picture on Facebook in the hope he might still come home.

"Then on Saturday morning my phone was going mad and I was getting sent all these broken heart emojis and I just went to pieces.

"I spoke with his aunt Niamh before that just to ask how Fiona was doing and she said Fiona was very positive at the time and thought that he had just taken a wee notion and she was staying positive, then obviously the devastating news came through."

Belfast Telegraph