A HEARTBROKEN mother paid tribute to her "little miracle" son who lost a five year battle with cancer on New Year's Day but whose incredible courage in fighting the illness inspired thousands worldwide.
Eimear Doyle fought back tears as she told mourners today how "so, so proud" their entire family was of little Fionn (7), Ireland's youngest honorary Garda, who heroically fought cancer for five years after being diagnosed with leukaemia at just 18 months.
Little Fionn made national headlines last summer when an appeal to make his seventh birthday extra special given his terminal cancer diagnosis sparked an international reaction.
Eimear, her husband Jack, and daughters, Amy and Saoirse, all wore orange jumpers at Fionn's Mass of the Angels in Kildorrery, Co Cork in honour of the fact it was the little boy's favourite colour.
Hundreds attended St Bartholomew's Church with special guards of honour provided by Fionn's national school classmates and Kildorrery Scouts.
Fionn's white coffin was decorated with paintings of his favourite cartoon show, 'Power Rangers', and the Offertory Gifts reflected the loves of his short life - a lead for his dog, Lightning, a cherished Power Rangers toy, his beloved honorary Garda badge and a family photo.
His coffin was brought into the church to the strains of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'.
Fighting back tears, Eimear thanked everyone for their support over Fionn's difficult last months - and paid a heart rending tribute to her little son.
"To Fionn - I would just like to say from me, Daddy, Amy and Saoirse, we are so grateful that we got the chance to have you in our lives," she said.
"Our gorgeous, happy, chatty little man - our cheeky monkey.
"We are so, so proud of you - and how you fought so hard for so long with such bravery and courage.
"You still kept that gorgeous smile on your face throughout it all.
"These last seven months you have battled on even though no-one had expected that you would.
"During that time, we grabbed life together and made wonderful memories that we will treasure forever.
"We will miss you more than words can ever, ever say. But how lucky are we to have had someone in our lives that made saying goodbye so hard.
"Love you Fionn."
The mother-of-three received an ovation from mourners and then paused to kiss Fionn's coffin as she returned to her seat.
Kildorrery Parish Priest Fr Eamon Kelleher said the entire community was deeply moved by Fionn's heroic battle against cancer.
"He was a little miracle," he said.
"If we could bear some of your suffering, we would," he told the family.
"You are surrounded by people who care for you, who are praying for you and who want to help you in any small way they can.
"But, because of your great love for Fionn, that terrible grief is yours.
"You are in our prayers. Don't lose heart and don't lose faith. This little child Fionn is with the baby Jesus in Heaven.
The family said they were "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of sympathy and support from Ireland and worldwide, many from people who never met Fionn but were inspired by his courage.
"We are absolutely heartbroken but we are taking comfort from just how much Fionn's story has touched people."
The couple had celebrated Christmas complete with special presents on December 8 last amid concerns over Fionn's deteriorating condition.
Fionn made headlines last year when a birthday appeal saw him receive 10,000 cards from all across the world - and the little boy was thrilled when Gardaí decided to make his dream come true by giving him the force's VIP guest treatment.
Fionn was given demonstrations by the Garda Regional Support Unit and the Garda Dog Unit - and given a demonstration of a Garda patrol car while wearing his own uniform.
He received an honorary Garda badge.
To mark the occasion, units of local fire brigades also attended with their tenders.
Eimear said Fionn was thrilled at his special birthday.
"His face lit up when he saw all the Garda cars and fire engines," Eimear said.
Fionn was diagnosed with leukaemia when aged just 18 months but went into remission over two years ago.
Tragically, his cancer had returned in early 2017.
Despite a bone marrow transport later that year, his cancer steadily worsened and last year Eimear and Jack were told that Fionn's condition was now terminal.
Eimear admitted that, in the end, they were hoping to spend a final Christmas with Fionn.
"It was our greatest hope," she said.
"It meant the absolute world to us to have Christmas Day with Fionn."
Fionn's family have asked that, instead of funeral flowers, people make a donation to the Children's Leukaemia Association.
Fionn is survived by his parents, Eimear and Jack, and siblings, Saoirse and Amy.