Emotional farewell to 'wonderful' teen
Alison Comyn on emotional scenes at the funeral of tragic Cameron Reilly, murdered in Dunleer last week
"He is young. He is only a boy". The strains of 'Bring him home' at the funeral mass of Cameron Joseph Reilly in St Brigid's Church Dunleer on Monday remind us all that behind the headlines, the news reports, the rumours, he was just a boy, who drew the entire community to his side to say farewell.
Addressing his grieving family, in the words of Fr Michael Murtagh, his untimely death has caused Dunleer to weep.
'This county of Louth and district of Dunleer is suffering along with the family and we are all shocked, stunned and deeply saddened at what has happened. This is unprecedented and we have never had to deal with such an incident,' Father Murtagh told the capacity congregation.
'We will try to shoulder the burden of grief with you in the months and years ahead.'
Alongside his family, hundreds of Cameron's friends from school and college packed the church, to remember this 'quiet, helpful and courteous young man, who never gave his family a moment's trouble or concern'.
'Everyone who knew him, knew a quiet, young man with a real attachment to his family, and that makes the circumstances of his death so strange.
'We should remember Cameron for the vibrant and loving man he was, and not the circumstances that bring us here today,' said Tara Buckley on behalf of his family.
Indeed Fr Murtagh said Cameron's choice of college course suited his personality down to the ground.
'It is no accident that he chose hospitality to study, as hospitality could have been his middle name,' he said.
'He was the type of young person a family, and a community, can be proud of.'
During the mass, symbols of Cameron's short life were offered including a Nike trainer box, a chinese container from his favourite restaurant, a hairdryer to represent his sense of style, a bottle of aftershave as he always like to smell well, concert tickets to represent his love of live music, and an apron to represent his studies in DkIT.
All poignant reminders of how soon his life was stolen.
'The four saddest words in the English language are 'what might have been', Fr Murtagh continued, 'and today we mourn what might have been for Cameron.'
The Parish priest, who has been the voice of this broken community since the tragic death of the 18-year-old, didn't shy away from pleading with those who know how he died to come forward.
'News of Cameron's death has left us all in deep dismay, and we are all trying to figure out how he could have come to such a cruel and twisted fate,' he said.
'His cause of death raises questions and we shouldn't avoid them today, and I appeal to young people in particular to reflect on what has happened, and try and learn lessons from it.'
He appealed directly to young people, saying 'Examine the direction your lives are going, and the kind of people you want to be and what you are turning out to be.'
He also asked parents to 'listen and learn' from the youth in the community, and not dismiss the concerns of their children.
'It's hard to find consolation in such a situation, and hearing words crumble in the face of what is evil.'
The small church of St Brigid's, off Dunleer's main street was packed to capacity, as school friends, colleagues, and well-wishers from local GAA and sports club, joined his heartbroken family to say goodbye to one of their own.
Although out in force, gardai kept a respectful distance, and in remembering the 'vibrant and loving young man he was', Fr Murtagh asked everyone who knew him to make sure his short life was not in vain.
'His life will have been in vain if it doesn't make us reflect as a society, but if we become more values-led and a little more civilised, his life will have contributed to the greater good,' he told the grieving congregation.
'To all the young people here, I say we are all supportive of you and we have your best interests at heart, and parents, please take your responsibilities very seriously.'
He added 'We have a duty to our young people to give a good example."
Walking out into the sunshine, the sheer number of mourners became apparent, as wave upon wave of members of the grieving community lined the streets to honour Cameron Joseph, all hoping justice is served.
Cameron Joseph Reilly of Scarlet Street, Drogheda and Beechwood Drive, Dunleer, was the beloved son of Tracy and Patrick and is sadly missed by his heart broken mother and father, grandparents Rita and Joe Glass, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours, relatives and friends.