Ethan McCourt died on Saturday just five days after he was in a car crash at the Castledawson roundabout in Magherafelt last Monday.
Mourners at the Mass of the Angels for the six year old boy were told how before he passed away in Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, his organs were retrieved to give a new lease of life to others.
A pupil at St Mary’s Primary School in Bellaghy, Ethan’s school friends and teacher put meaningful items representing his short life, a football jersey and personalised water bottle, some Lego and books as well as a special board made by his friends, teachers and staff at school.
502 Bad Gateway
The priest at the funeral Rev Dolan said: “We gather with you today, a place we would rather not be but we must come. We need to come to release Ethan’s gentle soul to God. We are here to support Oonagh and, of course, Declan as well and pray for his recovery, and his grandparents, Margaret, Bernard and Mary and for all the extended family.”
Praying for Ethan’s friends
The priest also said to pray for his friends and classmates at St Mary’s PS and the teachers and staff there who are also in grief as is the wider parish communities in Bellaghy and Slatequarry, Rock and the Parish of Cookstown.
“Where ever you come from, whatever background, whatever church or no faith, your presence here is so much appreciated as is your support and prayer of the last 10 days,” said the priest.
“We are very conscious too that his seventh birthday was so close to today as well,” he said, adding that in the early days of the church, death was regarded as a heavenly birthday, born into a new life of eternity.
Dark weather symbolises grief over the community
The priest said: “Todays weather symbolises indeed too the darkness over our communities of Bellaghy and Cookstown. I suppose a darkness in all of us because we are touched always by the death of a child. It is worse for parents and it touches us deeply. You look at your own child in a different light and just how precious they are and how precious life is, likewise we pray for his father’s life as well. We can’t remain untouched by such deep sadness.
“When it comes to dealing with children and young people, you always talk to them about what they are going to be when they grown up, some dancers, some Fireman Sam, doctors, nurses and so on, less and less priests of course.
“That’s fine and lovely but today reminds us again that the only life any of us are guaranteed is the life we are presently living.”
He spoke of the vision statement of St Mary’s PS. It simply states: ‘Childhood is a unique experience of living. Respect it, enjoy it, protect it.”
The life of Ethan McCourt
“What has happened then in the life of Ethan, almost seven years of age, a life that was so central to his loved ones among others. We might think, seven, not a wild lot going on there yet.
“But I started to think about it and it is amazing what’s happened in that short time,” said the priest who spoke of Ethan being born and baptised, learning to crawl and then learning to walk and of course the joy of his first words.
“Time passes quickly and he is off to school, heading out on the first day in his uniform, maybe a reluctant starter but the excitment is there of things new, new friends, new playmates.
“And then there would be days like the rest of us that Ethan might not just have woken up with such enthusiasm. And then with the thought, why would you bother walking when your granda could carry you or at least he would carry the school bag.
“Ethan was smart enough to know why bother yourself too much if you can find an handier way. He kinda had a minimalist approach to thing and other days he could be very enthusiastic.
“As time goes by more and more people become relevant in his life, wider family circle, getting to know everybody, his friends, his cousins at the school and his teachers. And that circle widened for Ethan when he got involved with his football. In that short time he gave a lot of joy and a lot of hope and maybe sometimes insisted on getting his own way.
When tragedy happened
“Tragically that all came to an abrupt end last Monday morning on his way to school with his Daddy. His last week, which children are free around the school preparing for summer holidays and all the activities that go on at the end of the year.
“His was to be spent, of course, in intensive care where he was so well attended to, himself and his family in the Royal Victoria Children’s Intensive Care Unit.
“Ethan was to pass away on Saturday afternoon at 4.30pm. We have spoken about his short life and how it impacted on his nearest and dearest. Despite Ethan’s short life he achieved more than most of us would ever achieve.
Donating his organs
“Before his passing, Ethan’s organs were retrieved and as a consequence six different people’s lives, please God, have been given a new lease.
“That was a big decision but one never to be regretted. You Oonagh had an enormous input there as well, not just in the decision. You were the one in the first instance to give birth to Ethan and now we can put it that you helped others to rebirth. And their families will be eternally joyful and grateful and, there is that sense, of course, that Ethan will live on in these lives. Can you check with yourselves, can any of us be remembered for having such an impact on the lives of others. Ethan will never grow old - always young. Always remembered as a lively, inquisitive boy, a much loved child. The one whose friends will always remember him indeed as their classmate in the school year of 2022.
Dignity in grief
Speaking about the family, the priest said: “As I sympathise with you today, I have to say, you yourselves have been an inspiration. You have carried all this pain, all this grief which such dignity.”
There were prayers for those who looked after Ethan and his father and those who tended to them at the scene of the accident as well.
He was a ‘friendly, bubbly, chatty boy will be forever in our memories’.
Ethan Michael McCourt was the son of Oonagh and Declan, loving grandson of Bernard and Margaret McKenna and Mary and the late Mick McCourt (Slatequarry), nephew of Patrick, Bernard, Michael, John, Stephen, Paul, Eileen (Devlin) and Siobhan (Koumparos).
After his funeral at the Church of St. Mary Bellaghy he was buried in adjoining cemetery.
His death is deeply regretted by his sorrowing mother, father, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family circle.