'Special little boy' | 

Derry GAA fan Jack Henry (5) remembered through fundraiser for special needs school

Jack Henry from Moneymore, was described by his local GAA club as being “a very special little boy”
Jack Henry (5) was described by many as the boy with 'a big beautiful smile that would always make you happy'

Jack Henry (5) was described by many as the boy with 'a big beautiful smile that would always make you happy'

Niamh Campbell

The family of a five-year-old boy who passed away unexpectedly last week are paying tribute to his memory by raising funds for his special needs school in Magherafelt.

Jack Henry from Moneymore, was described by his local GAA club as being “a very special little boy”.

Henry Joy McCracken GAC added that he “was born into a family heavily involved with the GAA, and through this we had the pleasure of getting to know Jack and that beautiful smile”.

Jack died suddenly last week, after taking ill on Friday morning. His passing came less than a week after he was pictured with Derry GAA captain Chrissy McKaigue, who led the county to their first Ulster Championship title since 1998.

Derry GAA captain Chrissy McKaigue with Jack Henry after leading the county to their first Ulster Championship win in 24 years, just a few days before Jack's passing

Derry GAA captain Chrissy McKaigue with Jack Henry after leading the county to their first Ulster Championship win in 24 years, just a few days before Jack's passing

Also described by the Moneymore Gaelic club as “an avid Derry supporter”, Jack attended Kilronan School, which caters for children with severe learning difficulties and complex needs from the age of three to 19 years old.

His loved ones have asked that in lieu of flowers, people make donations to the school through a GoFundMe page which has been set up by Jack's mum, Enya.

At the time of publication, almost £20,000 has been raised through the site, which reads: “Little Jack was so lucky to attend the amazing school of Kilronan Magherafelt. We are hoping in lieu of flowers, we can donate something more everlasting, to keep the memory of him alive. All our thanks, The Henry Family.”

In a statement, the school said that Jack “touched the hearts of all who met him. His charm, character, endearing smile and beautiful eyes brought joy to staff and peers alike. Jack was truly loved by all in Kilronan and will be sorely missed.”

St Trea's Gaelic Football Club in Ballymaguigan, whom Jack’s father Brendan has always been heavily involved with, posted their sympathies on Facebook as well.

“Jack has touched the hearts of so many during his short life — his beautiful big smile was seen regularly at club activities where he spent many days with his devoted parents and grandparents,” the club wrote.

“He will be greatly missed by all who have had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful little boy.”

Jack’s family is steeped in Gaelic games, with his grandfather Eugene Young also heavily involved in the sport. Former Derry GAA manager Paddy Crozier too is a relative of the “boy with the big beautiful smile”.

Social media has been inundated with homages to the five-year-old, with SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone also extending his "sincerest sympathies” to the family of the “gentle wee soul”.

Jack Henry (5) from Moneymore

Jack Henry (5) from Moneymore

Frank Diamond, a former priest and well-known pillar within the Derry GAA community, said: “Absolutely heartbroken to hear the sad news of Little Jack Henry's untimely passing. I only met him at the Ulster final on Sunday and it was the highlight of my day.

“His smile, laugh, pride in Derry’s victory was infectious. There are no words for the loss that this wee legends passing will leave. He had that amazing gift of touching people's hearts from the the first moment you encounter him. His five short years left a legacy of love for all of us to remember with a smile on our face and a tear in our eye.”

Jack’s funeral took place at 11.00am today in the Church of St John and St Trea in Moneymore.

The Henry family requested that everyone who attends “wears their best and brightest”.

Jack is survived by his parents, Brendan and Enya, his little brother Paddy and wider family circle.

You can donate to Jack’s page at Fundraiser by Enya Henry: Kilronan School Magherafelt at gofundme.com.


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