A GRIEF-stricken community was last night making preparations to welcome home a young student for the last time.
The new year was no cause for celebration in the picturesque townland of Tedvanet outside Emyvale, Co Monaghan, where residents are mourning the loss of 19-year-old Jason McGovern.
The theatre management student had travelled across the Border to Omagh for a festive night out with friends last Sunday when he was attacked twice.
He went to bed that night complaining of a headache and was discovered dead the next morning.
The close-knit rural community of Tedavnet was yesterday preparing the McGovern family home in advance of the student's return.
A marquee was erected outside and was filled with chairs in anticipation of the large numbers of friends and neighbours who will want to offer their condolences to Jason's devastated parents, Seamus and Kathleen, and his two older brothers, Jonathan and Niall.
Along the hedgerow that lined the approach to the family bungalow strings of lights were fixed to guide the locals arriving after dark.
Local priest Fr Hubert Martin described Jason as "one of those exceptional boys that are rare" and said the community was struggling to comprehend how this energetic young man with so much life still to live was now gone.
"We the parishioners and clergy are shocked and stunned, we can't believe it. He's the last person in the world you would expect to meet such a fate.
"It makes it worse not knowing what happened," he added.
He said the McGoverns were devastated at the loss of their son and brother.
"Obviously they're in a state of shock, to lose such a beautiful boy, only 19-and-a-half-years, almost 20, and the youngest of three.
"He was so good to his mother and grandmother," he added.
Mrs McGovern is understood to suffer from MS and Jason was particularly devoted to her and helped to care for her.
One local woman described the news of Jason's death as "heartbreaking."
"They are such a lovely family and he was such a loveable lad," she added.
Funeral arrangements are expected to finalised for later in the week.