THE village of Kilrea is still in shock following the horrific crash that claimed the lives of two life-long friends in their early twenties last weekend.
Christopher O’Neill (22) and Declan McKenna (23) died in the early hours of Saturday morning after Mr O’Neill’s car crashed into a tree and burst into flames.
It is believed that the accident occurred at around 3.30am on the Agivey Road, just a quarter of a mile from the young men’s homes.
Funeral mass for Declan McKenna took place on Wednesday at 2pm in St Mary’s Church Drumagarner his best friend Christopher O’Neill’s funeral mass is taking place on Thursday at 12noon in the same church in Drumagarner.
Speaking of their “anguish,” the families of both men have described their loss as “unbearable” and have said that they are “heartbroken.”
They related how earlier that day Christopher and Declan had attended an anniversary Mass for Christopher’s father, Kevin, who died a year ago.
Stunned neighbours and friends laid floral tributes at the scene on the Agivey Road and have been offering support to the grief-striken families, both of whom are well-known in the area.
Hours before the tragedy, Christopher, a mechanic, had posted a moving tribute in the form of a poem to his father on Facebook. The poignant message ends: “God has you in his keeping/We have you in our heart/RIP daddy always in our hearts.”
Friends since their schooldays, the respective tributes paid to both Christopher and Declan describe two young men who would have “done anything to to help anyone.”
Declan’s father, Martin, said of his son, the youngest of three: “He was the type of chap, no matter what you wanted and what help you needed, Declan was your boy. He was a plumber by trade and a handy young lad. He had a big lot of friends and lots of Protestant friends. He’d be up helping mates with the lambing and the sheep farming. He was always off doing something.” He added: “We have been touched to see his friends and also so many of his Protestant friends paying their respects.”
And Christopher’s uncle, Eugene Davey, said: “Christopher was so full of life. Christopher would have done anything for you.” Mr Davey said that Christopher spent the last year of his life looking after his mother and big sister Ciara. “He was a great support to them and had had to become the man of the house after his daddy died. He was just one of those lovely fellows. He would have done anything for anyone no matter what time of day or night. He would never have passed anyone without greeting you.” A member of Sinn Féin, Christopher was the grandson of former Sinn Féin councillor John Davey, killed by loyalists in 1989.
Mid-Ulster MLA Martin McGuinness extended his condolences to both families involved.
“On behalf of Republicans throughout Ireland I would wish to extend my condolences to the families involved at this most difficult of times.”