Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Hundreds pay respects to 'son every mother would want'
The funeral of Aaron Montgomery held at Holy Trinity Parish Church, Soldierstown, Aghalee. Father and son carry the coffin from the church.

HUNDREDS of people have turned out for the funeral of the 23-year-old Moira man who died after an incident during a night out in Belfast.

Addressing mourners who attended the service for Aaron Montgomery in Soldierstown, near Aghalee, the Rev Simon Doogan said his devastated parents wanted to set the record straight on what happened outside the Skye nightclub.

"What happened outside Skye is no more and no less than what always happens at closing time outside discos and dances," he told a packed congregation at Holy Trinity Parish Church.

The clergyman said that "as in all cities", going home time could sadly prove to be a time of "some mindlessness which can result in real tragedy".

And he insisted that the Moira man and his friends were trying to walk away from trouble, and that is it in a nutshell".

The marketing department employee had been enjoying a Valentine's disco at the Belfast nightclub when tragedy struck at the end of the night.

Since then, family, friends and colleagues have been leaving messages of sympathy for the man they described as "a kind, polite and very likeable guy" on his personal Bebo Internet site.

Last Thursday the volume of mourners was so large there was not enough room inside the church, with some having to pack into the youth hall, and many more standing outside.

Scores of young people - some in school uniform -wept openly, the emotion of the occasion proving too much.

Among those who turned up to pay their respects were Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

Delivering the address, Mr Doogan described Aaron as someone who had grown up to be "affectionate, dependable, straight talking, never in trouble, someone who always gave back twice as much in love and friendship as he had been given". He said he had a passion for life and for football -more particularly his favourite team, Manchester United, visibly highlighted by the red and white flowers that adorned his coffin.

"Aaron had health and vigour and energy - and a big appetite from day one. He grew up strong yet he grew up soft. He was never cheeky but was capable of all sorts of devilment.

"He was everything a mother could want her eldest child to be. He was a young man with a head for facts and figures, and any flair he lacked he made up for in sheer hard work."

Mr Doogan said that to his brother Adam he was a sibling he could spend time with "without any danger of cramping his style", and to his sister Rachel, he was one "who got more use out of her expensive hair straighteners that she did".

He revealed that Rachel had spoken to Aaron on the phone just a few hours before he died. which had proven to be "one last chance to hear his voice"

The clergyman added: "To his friends, he was someone who was great company, loyal, dependable, fun to be with.

"To his football teammates, he was someone who was enthusiastic and committed. To his work colleagues, he was part of a team and someone destined for a very bright future."

A poem was also read by Aaron's brother Adam which included the line: "It broke our hearts to lose you and you don't go alone, because part of us went with you, the day God called you home."

Aaron was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Ulster Star