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Funeral takes place of student who died suddenly

HUNDREDS of people have attended the funeral of a University student from Castlederg who died suddenly in Belfast last week and was described as someone who “absolutely loved his family”.

Christopher McGettigan, who was an engineering student in his second year at Queen’s University, was laid to rest in his home town today (Tuesday) afternoon.

The 19-year-old, from Ashburn Park, was a son of Brendan and Marian McGettigan. He had two sisters, Antoinette and Francesca, and two brothers, Brendan and Martin.

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In a touching tribute, Antoinette described her younger brother as a “loving, gentle, caring and a true friend”.

She said, “Christopher was a much beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. The youngest of five children he was the centre of the McGettigan household and Marian and Brendan’s pride and joy. He was in his second year of his Civil Engineering degree at Queens University Belfast and returned home every weekend to be with his family. He was the most loving, gentle caring son and a true friend to anyone that knew him.”

Castlederg parish priest, Fr Colm O’Doherty, said the family are ‘heartbroken’ after the tragedy.

“The McGettigans are a lovely family. They are hard working and well respected in the local community.

“The kids are their main focus. This is heartbreaking for them,” the priest said.

A PSNI spokesperson said that officers had attended the report of a sudden death of a man at the Eglantine Avenue area in south Belfast on Thursday, December 6.

“A post-mortem is due to be carried out, but the death is not being treated as suspicious,” the spokesperson added.

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It is understood that the post-mortem to determine the cause of death took place in Belfast on Saturday, after which the body was released to the family.

His funeral will be taking place in St Patrick’s Church in Castlederg tomorrow afternoon, starting at 2pm.

Fr O’Doherty will be the main celebrant of the Funeral Mass, while it is understood that a chaplain from Queen’s University will also play a role at the service.

The Castlederg parish priest said that local people had been left “very sad” at the news of the teenager’s death.

“This is such a tragedy for the family. People are just very sad,” he said.

Fr O’Doherty said that Christopher was a “very quiet fella, fairly shy, who absolutely loved his family”.

The priest said that, during his schooldays, he had completed the John Paul II Award, which recognises young people’s commitment to faith and community.

Fr O’Doherty also said that going home to Castlederg at the weekends while a student in Belfast had been important for him.

“He liked the company of his family,” the priest said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with them,” he added.

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