Cookstown tragedy funerals: Lauren Bullock was ‘a passionate cheerleader who kept everyone in craic, friendship and fun’

Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bullock
Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bullock

At her funeral mass this morning, tragic 17-year-old Lauren Bullock was described as a passionate cheerleader who kept those around her “in craic, friendship and fun”.

The funerals of three teenagers who died after a crush in the queue for a disco are taking place today.

Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died outside a St Patrick’s Day event at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, County Tyrone.

The crush happened as hundreds of young people were waiting to get into the event on Sunday night.

The funeral mass for Lauren Bullock took place Saint Patrick’s Church, Donaghamore at 11am today.

Present were Lauren’s parents Martin and Mary, brothers Shane and Ryan, grandparents Martin, Ann-Marie and Joe as well as extended family, friends and neighbours.

In his homily, Father Moore paid tribute to Lauren’s zest for life and bubbly personality.

He said: “Saint Patrick’s Day 2019, in the parish of Donaghmore and beyond, will not be remembered with any nostalgia or fond memories of the band parades or any other part of the celebration of our national Saint’s day. Instead for many decades to come, Saint Patrick’s Day 2019 will be called to mind as the awful day when three beautiful young people, all in the prime of their lives, were overpowered, literally in the mad rush of our modern world and needlessly lost their lives. On Sunday night, and during the early hours of Monday, a dark and threatening cloud hung over all of us, as we struggled to understand and come to terms with the tragic turn of events on what ought to have been a night of fun, dance, friendship and laughter.

“Instead we learned, in a state of shock and disbelief, of the news of Lauren’s tragic death, and the deaths of Connor and Morgan. The very large gathering here today is to honour and respect the life of Lauren, so sadly cut short, and to support you Mary, Martin, Shane and Ryan. We can only but imagine how you are feeling today. Everything was ok on Sunday and one phone call to you, changed your lives in an instant and we are all too aware that life will not be the same again for any of you without Lauren. We never know what each new day will have in store for any of us.

“One thing that never can be taken from us are our precious memories of your beautiful girl, Lauren. Lauren has been the essence of a wonderful and caring daughter, sister, grand-daughter, niece to her family and a loyal and caring friend to so many others. So many people have been touched by the events of Sunday night. Take consolation in that, a sign of what people in the community and local area truly thought of her and yourselves as a family.

“Aged only 17, Lauren was well in the process of making her mark on her home, her school, this community, her circle of friends. She was ‘living the dream’, energetic and full of life, doing and enjoying all the things that made her happy. She was a girl who was happiest when she was doing things to help others and gave of herself and her time to do a good deed whenever and wherever she could.

“Lauren’s many friends have described her to me as having ‘a warm and bubbly personality with a very infectious smile’, that’s a lovely picture for all of us to have of her in our minds today.

“Lauren was getting on so well in Saint Patrick’s College in Dungannon, and her teachers there can attest to how eager and very able a student Lauren was. She had a bright future in front of her and we know she still had so much more to contribute to our community.

“Nothing seemed to get Lauren down. She had such a positive outlook on life and a real zest for living. Lauren loved people as much as they loved her and was a real ‘socialite’ with lots of friends and people who admired and looked up to her. Lauren was involved in football and the scouts. She had started her driving lessons and had taken to it like the proverbial ‘duck to water’.

“Lauren’s real passion was her ‘cheerleading’, with the Euphoria Cheerleading group. Lauren was a girl who loved to get dressed up, loved make-up, her nails done, a bit of style, her hair just right.

“She only had to come into the family home at number 27, and they knew she had arrived. Family values and family time was so very important to her. She was full of energy, a delight to her parents and a marvellous support to her brothers. Benji the dog arrived three years ago into the family home as Lauren’s dog and he was absolute gold dust, her pride and joy!

“Lauren was so forward thinking that she even had found herself a part-time job in McDonalds, keeping the whole of the food outlet in craic, friendship and fun.

“Lauren has had too short a time on this earth, but for her 17 years of life she has certainly achieved a lot, she used her time well and wisely.

“When tragedy strikes, there is a numbness that comes with it. We don’t want to think too far ahead and we cannot imagine life without her warmth and presence. Since the early hours of Monday morning, there has been a wealth of support and care for the family from the entire Donaghmore community and further afield. I commend our schools in the locality for all that they have done in ensuring the well-being of all our students as they come to terms with the deaths of Lauren, Connor and Morgan.

“Mary and Martin, when you brought Lauren to be baptised, some 17 years ago, your hopes and dreams for her were very different to what we are experiencing today. For your little family, this is one of the hardest journeys of your life. It is too raw to think too far ahead. One day at a time is the only advice we can offer you. Today is not what you ever believed could happen and Saint Paul reminds us that life is changed, not ended. Being with you since Monday has been very humbling. Amid your pain you have conducted yourselves with great dignity and decorum, welcoming so many people into your home to offer you their heartfelt sympathy. Know that you have the love and support of the entire community. We will all be here for you.

“‘Those who leave us in death, leave their footprint on our hearts’.”

“May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin, at the final commendation, noted that Lauren had been snatched away from her family as a teenager, just like St Patrick himself.

He said: “Saint Patrick was only sixteen years old when he was cruelly wrenched away from his family, friends and loved ones by kidnappers who sold him into slavery in Ireland. He wrote about that lonely time, and about the terrible loss and fear his family suffered, not knowing where he was and probably asking themselves endless questions: Where is he now? Why did this happen? How will we cope? What if...?

“Since the terribly tragic events in Cookstown on Saint Patrick’s night we’ve all been asking those kinds of questions - and none more so than the families of Lauren, Connor and Morgan. Words fail us at times like this. All that really matters, and makes a difference, is love and friendship and compassion. And only faith can dare to speak into the darkness of these days to offer a glimmer of light and hope in this valley of tears.

“The young teenager, Saint Patrick, in the depth of his pain and isolation, wrapped himself around with prayer: “Christ on my right, Christ on my left”, he prayed. “Christ in mouth of friend and stranger”.

“Here in Co Tyrone this week - as families, parishes, schools and communities - we’ve been circling each other around with love and faith and kindness and compassion. The shocking events of Sunday last have reminded us that life is very fragile; we need to cherish every moment and always look out for each other, and keep each other safe.

“Thank you all for being here today to offer your prayerful presence and support. In the days ahead, we will cherish the memories of these precious and gifted young people whose lives have been so suddenly wrenched from among us; we will continue to hold their families, and each other, close in love and faith, praying as the young Saint Patrick did, “Christ behind me, Christ before me. Christ to comfort and restore me”.

“Saint Paul says: “Take comfort in knowing that everyone who died in Christ shall rise to new life and be with him forever”.

“God rest Morgan and Lauren and Connor and surround you, their loved ones with a blanket of love and faith, until one day, in the joy of heaven, we will see their smiling faces again. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha.”