THE family of 18-year-old Patrick Halpin has paid tribute to the talented young DCU student who died in tragic circumstances in London last week.
Some 100 members of the Irish community in London attended a mass to commemorate Patrick in Kilburn last night and to grieve alongside his parents Elsie and Paddy and his sister Regina, there surrounded by a large extended family.
John O'Connor, an uncle of the deceased teenager, described his nephew as a multi-talented young man who had been part of his local youth theatre from the age of six and had developed a love for music and musicals, becoming a prominent voice in the choir.
It was during a trip to London with a drama club from DCU, where Patrick was studying to be an actuary, that he went missing in the early hours of Wednesday last week. His body was found on the roof of a building on Leicester Square 42 hours after he was last seen.
Mr O'Connor said Patrick had had a passion for reading, especially Harry Potter books, and was a keen sportsman, playing volleyball for Ireland at under 20s level as well as for his local clubs in GAA.
He told the congregation in the Sacred Heart church in Kilburn that Patrick had been successful at his studies, having just completed his first term. Mr O'Connor said that as many of those at the mass last night did not know the teenager themselves, he wanted to give a "glimpse of his talents".
Patrick's cousins led the prayers of the faithful at the mass and read from the Book of Lamentations at the special ceremony which was organised by the Galway Association in London.
Michael O'Connor, another uncle of Patrick's, told of how the last week had been "very sad and difficult" for the family but that the huge support offered to them had "helped in no small way".
He paid tribute to friends of Patrick who had publicised his disappearance on social media, the Metropolitan Police - who were represented at the mass, the media and neighbours and friends of the family in London as well as the Galway Association in London.
"I think, to sum it up, this week has put a new meaning to the phrase 'there are no strangers here, only friends we have not met'," he said to applause from the congregation.
Fr Michael O'Connor, parish priest from the Sacred Heart church, said the presence of so many people said a lot and described how such a sudden death caused a numbness and an experience of being lost.
The body of the teenager has been released to the family after an inquest into his death was opened and adjourned. It is expected that the family will return to Ireland today [FRI]. The funeral is due to take place on Sunday afternoon at St Brendan's Cathedral in Loughrea.