Dunleer unites for Cameron
Family of Cameron Reilly thank an entire community for seeing them through horror of the past year
It shot up into the cloudy Dunleer sky, a single blue balloon, free, flying, joyful, up and up it went until it disappeared from view.
Those below just stopped and looked. It was one of those moments.
Last Saturday, members of the community of Beechwood Drive and School Lane and other areas of Dunleer gathered at a green, close to Cameron's beloved grandparents home, to plant a tree to remember the first anniversary of the death of Cameron Reilly.
As part of the short, poignant event, the organisers had brought along about a dozen blue balloons, all ready to be released by family members.
But somehow, one escaped early from the bunch and made its own way to freedom.
Maybe it was a playful 'thank you' from someone up above, either way, it set the tone for what was another moment in time for a family still shattered by the loss of a much loved son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, relative, friend.
The occasion was a community's way of saying they still remember Cameron and it was deeply, deeply appreciated by the Glass and Reilly families.
The ceremony had been set for 4pm and it was remarkable to behold the crowds that arrived and kept coming as the hour approached - united like never before.
And they were all ages, young and old.
Fr Michael Murtagh, who has been such a leading light from dark days in Dunleer, said the setting was truly apt, as Cameron had always been out and and about in the park, enjoying the company of his friends and family.
He hoped the tree would be a message of hope and hoped that people would continue to be inspired by Cameron's innocence to 'help us through the grief' that his death had brought.
He also spoke of the great goodwill of people that had so helped the family in their troubled hours.
Darren Flanagan, speaking on behalf of the family, thanked the community of Dunleer for thinking about Cameron at this time.
He said he was a 'bright, gentle young man' and his loss had been an unbearable one for the many that loved him.
The tree and the plaque with it were from an anonymous donor and the family thanked them for their gesture.
His final words were for those that have stood by the family in the past year - quite simply, 'from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all.'
In the coming months, a wall will be erected around Cameron's tree and in it, the plaque will be laid. It states, 'Cameron Reilly, Stay Awhile' and will be a place where those that adored the young man can seek some solace.
As the many people that gathered for the short ceremony departed their various ways, the family all laid some soil at the foot of the tree, adding to the firm roots with every movement.
It was once said '"The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared."
Dunleer shared like true friends last Saturday.