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Thousands turn out as tragic James makes final journey home

TRAGIC fan James Nolan has made his final journey amid heartbreaking scenes. There were tears as the young soccer fan finally arrived home to his devastated family.

They told of their "relief " that they can now hold a proper funeral for the 21-year-old who sadly drowned on a trip to Euro 2012 in Poland. Speaking to the Herald, James’ brother-inlaw, Gareth Dudley, said: "It's going to be a tough few days. But we are simply relieved to have James home."

Earlier thousands turned out for an emotional prayer service in the town's Church of Our Lady.

James drowned after he slipped into a river in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz after a night out last Sunday with friends during the Euro 2012 tournament. Foul play is not suspected.

One of the Tallaght Institute of Technology environmental engineering student's favourite songs -- Remember Me, by Christie Hennessy --was played in front of up to 2,000 people who packed out the church.

Torn by grief, his friends and loved ones openly wept as the community remembered a "happy-go-lucky guy".

And in a solemn moment at the end of the service, the town watched in silence as the solid oak coffin was driven through the streets of Blessington. It was brought to the local funeral home where immediate family members, including parents Jimmy and Essie, held private prayers.

James' uncle Pat and brother Andrew accompanied the coffin home from Poland.

The young barman's father has previously described how he should be returning from the "trip of a lifetime" with a bright future ahead.

Instead, James will be waked at home this evening before being brought to the Church of Our Lady in Blessington for the removal at 8.30pm tomorrow night.

The funeral Mass will take place on Monday at 11am followed by burial in Burgage Cemetery.

After three days of searching, James' body was taken from the river on Wednesday and was formally identified by his uncle Pat.

Police are satisfied James was not the victim of an assault and his wallet, credit cards, money and telephone were also recovered.

It is believed he slipped into the river at a dark, unlit location where there were no safety barriers as he walked back to his accommodation.