TWO heartbroken parents will today bid an emotional farewell to their baby son who died suddenly at his creche.
Patrick Michael O'Loughlin -- who was 21 months old -- died on Tuesday afternoon from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), or cot death, at Little Treasures creche in Dooradoyle, Limerick.
Management at the creche and paramedics unsuccessfully did their best to revive the toddler. Following his death, the creche contacted parents of all other children to take their sons and daughters home.
As a mark of respect, the Limerick creche will remain closed until next week.
Surrounded by his toys, little Patrick was laid out in his cot at his home in Dooradoyle last night as grieving relatives and friends attempted to comfort his parents, Pat and Stephanie.
The parents recalled that while small and young their "precious little boy already had a huge heart".
"He was with us for just 21 months, but in that short time he touched not only our lives, but also that of so many others around us in a lot of ways," they said.
"He was always open, trusting and friendly with everyone he met -- family, friend or stranger.
"Patrick adored his grandparents, aunts and uncles both in Ireland and Germany. He loved spending time visiting the cows, chickens and dog Toby out at his grandparents.
"Patrick loved going to his creche and all the minders and friends he had there."
The couple said they "cannot comprehend why he has been snatched from our lives so soon and so suddenly and in such a way".
"We are sitting here in front of his little cot where he is lying. Out of the corner of our eye, it sometimes looks as though we can see the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he is sleeping," they said.
"When we stoop to give him a kiss, we know this is one sleep he will not wake up from and it tears us apart."
Pat and Stephanie recalled how their son had a passion for books and animals and a very inquisitive nature.
"He had just begun to say a few words here and there. He had learned that ducks say 'quack, quack' and cows say 'moo'. He would look out the window in the morning at the birdies and would reply 'tweet, tweet' when asked what the birdies say.
"Patrick had also learnt astonishingly fast how to turn off the spin cycle on his mammy's washing machine and loved to meddle with her household chores."
In a heartfelt tribute, Patrick's parents said he "was a ray of sunshine from the day he was born and frankly, the easiest baby anyone could have asked for".
"We feel extremely grateful for every day we have been allowed to spend with him. We just wish there could have been more days. He will forever be in our hearts and memories and those of everyone who had the privilege of knowing him," they said.
A mass of the Angels for Patrick was due to be held in Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Milford, Castletroy, Limerick today followed by burial at Clooney, Co Clare.