Tragedy | 

Emotional tributes paid at funeral of young Irish man who died in Thailand kayak accident

‘Odhran had his life planned out and knew exactly where he was going, not something a lot of 22-year-olds can say’

Jessica Rice & Liam TunneyBelfast Telegraph

Tributes have been paid at the funeral of a 22-year-old man from Lurgan who died in a kayaking accident on holiday.

The funeral was held in St Peter’s church in Lurgan at noon today and opened with condolences being offered to Odhran O’Neill’s mother, Claire, father, Maurice, sister Michaela and extended family.

Several tributes were read by Mr O’Neill’s friends and family at the funeral.

He was praised for his intelligence and drive and mourners heard how he had “aced his GCSEs and A levels and landed an apprenticeship with Norbrook”.

“Odhran had his life planned out and knew exactly where he was going, not something a lot of 22-year-olds can say.”

There was also light-hearted moments when his friends and family shared stories of Mr O’Neill setting a croissant on fire and changing from jeans into jogging bottoms to go to a 21st birthday party.

One family member praised Mr O’Neill’s contagious humour: “Little did Odhran know that everything we needed was his comic relief,” she said.

Another described him as being the life of family parties, “No matter any family gathering they asked was Odhran gonna be there.”

One tribute thanked Mr O’Neill for his honest advice: “He was the one I went to when I needed advice and he would always say, ‘Stop stressing because it only makes you ugly’.”

While another praised his individuality, “He wasn’t trying to be funny he was trying be himself.

“He was a natural comedian. He didn’t care what anyone else thought.”

One friend described Odhran as being a “faithful and loyal friend”.

Friends thanked Mr O’Neill for the positive impact he made on their lives.

“Odhran being in your life just made it more fun more enjoyable, when you first met Odhran it didn’t take long for your heart to warm up.

“The number of people that have met him once or twice and have texted me their condolences is testimonial,” one friend said.

“I owe so much to Odhran,” another added.

Mr O’Neill was described as a “strong independent young man,” with a positive attitude.

“To portray Odhran’s outlook on life — for every three bad there's 300 good.

“He wasn’t here for a long time but he was here for a good time.”

Mr O’Neill’s younger sister Michaela delivered the last tribute.

Wearing her brother's T-shirt, she praised him for his “extravagant” dress sense.

She thanked Mr O’Neill for being a good big brother: “From the moment I was born you were fascinated by me and you would watch my cot.”

She described being close to her brother throughout her childhood: “As we got older people thought we would grow apart but we didn’t, then it was me who was fascinated by you,” she said.

She thanked Mr O’Neill as being her rock and said he was “too pure for this world.”

She finished her tribute by saying, “Until the very end I will love you forever.”

A report from a local rescue centre in Thailand shared details of the incident.

“The friends of the missing said that they were playing in the water together. Later, the other friends came up on the raft. The missing person continued to swim alone near the raft,” they said.

“Friends came to pick up the missing person to eat, but couldn't find him, so he informed the authorities to help him find him.

“The park used boats to search for the surface and the initial hill area. The missing person has now been found,” it added.

The area in which Mr O’Neill’s body was found had been experiencing bad weather, with passenger ferries in the Khao Sok National Park ordered to stop operations.

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