THE sister of student Patrick Halpin paid an emotional tribute to her brother telling the large congregation at his funeral to live life like he would have – with a smile and a song.
More than a thousand mourners packed into St Brendan's Cathedral in Loughrea, Co Galway, for the funeral Mass of the 18-year-old actuary student who died in London while on a trip with the DCU drama group.
Regina recalled his love of sport; playing volleyball for Ireland, representing his community in hurling and following his mother in karate.
But it was his love of theatre and his time with Loughrea Youth Theatre (LYT) that gave him his confidence.
Telling mourners that Patrick's life was full of song, she said that he was never happier then when on the stage. She told of how they would spend hours at home singing songs from musicals with Patrick knowing every word.
She urged the congregation not to think of his death as a tragedy but to remember how he had reached perfection in his short life.
"I want to go back to this idea of tragedy and I tell you this isn't one. He had reached perfection and God took him, he won't be reduced by the evils of this world. He is not gone too soon, he is gone just in time," she said.
She urged the congregation not to leave the church in sorrow but asked them to live life as her brother would.
"Forget old arguments and invite old friends back into your life. Do not worry, live your life as if you are forever 18. Live your life like Patrick had, with a smile and a song," she said.
In an emotional tribute to her only brother which led to applause from mourners, Regina spoke of his traits, describing him as "quiet yet friendly, careful but not boring, fun but not wild, charismatic, laid back but not lazy, passionate, intelligent."
On behalf of the family she thanked the Metropolitan Police, the gardai and all those who had helped in the search for Patrick, both in person and on social media.
Fr Joe Clarke, who celebrated the Mass, also took up the theme of social media, stating that while we often see the bad sides, it could also be used for good in times of crisis, with thousands sharing appeals for Patrick while he was missing.
Patrick was found dead on a roof of a Burger King outlet in Leicester Square on February 6. He had gone missing just after midnight on February 5.
As Patrick's body was taken from the church, a guard of honour was formed by a range of clubs and societies he had played a role in. Members of the Kilnadeema-Leitrim club carried his remains from the local church to the cemetery where he was laid to rest.