Keep up with Armagh i

Owen McAfee: Armagh teen was ‘a true warrior’ right up until the end, mourners told

"Everyone was rooting for him. Everyone was there hoping, hoping for that miracle, hoping beyond hope that he'd be okay and that he would come through it. God had a plan and it was not to be."

Owen McAfee Armagh

Mourners at the funeral of an Armagh teenager, who died following a brave battle with cancer, heard how he characterised his very name – Owen – by being a true Celtic Warrior right until the very end.

Owen McAfee, who was just 18, passed away early on Easter Sunday morning. His final words to his mum Glenda were simply: “I’m okay!”

He was also the beloved son of Jimmy, as well as loving brother of Jack and Olivia and those who packed into St Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday morning heard how Owen “truly endured whatever he had to face in these days of his suffering”.

Fr Barry Matthews said Owen never wanted sympathy, noting the teenager’s very own words…”it’s my body that’s sick, not my mind”.

“Owen was a strong character who took one day at a time and he truly was positive throughout,” said the priest.

“When news started spreading around Armagh on Sunday morning that Owen had passed away, a huge air of sadness filled the hearts of so many people.

“Because the journey that Owen was on, was truly a journey that the community were on. Everyone was rooting for him. Everyone was there hoping, hoping for that miracle, hoping beyond hope that he’d be okay and that he would come through it. God had a plan and it was not to be.

“Owen’s legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. The Onward for Owen campaign touched the hearts of so many. Both Owen’s life and death has really impacted the community here in Armagh.”

Owen was a lovely human being, so open to being kind to everyone whom he knew. He was a young man who always had a smile on his face.

“He loved his family beyond everything else,” said the priest. “And his goodness was a kind of private goodness; Owen wouldn’t do anything that wasn’t for the betterment of those around him.”

Owen just loved the craic.

“Glenda, you were telling me of the Giro d’Italia. You went out to Basil Shiels pub to wait for the race to pass and next thing you looked and Owen was at the bar with two strangers chatting away about football – and he knew more than they did.”

Mourners heard of Owen’s love for football; his knowledge and recall of statistics was second to none. Offertory gifts of a football, as well as Armagh Harps and Armagh GAA jerseys demonstrated that love perfectly.

“Owen loved to travel to football games away with his grandad, Sean and he loved nothing more than listening to Hugo Duncan especially, when grandad’s little boy came on the radio”.

Fr Matthews spoke of Owen’s penchant for a little devilment – he had that twinkle in his eye.

“The real devilment,” he said, “started in College Farm Nursery when he locked the class with the teacher and the students into the reading room.

“And Olivia, how he had no problem getting boxing gloves for you. Jack, you had no problem throwing him off the radiator; whatever it was, there was fun in your home. These are memories that you’ll never forget.”

Fr Matthews reserved special praise for Owen’s friends, describing them like “brothers in arms” and “a true inspiration”, supporting their friend from first diagnosis right until the very end.

Owen embraced his mortality with a great sense of dignity, showing strength at a time of great despair.

Said Fr Matthews: “‘I’m okay’. These indeed were the last words that he spoke to you, Glenda – ‘I’m okay’. And I have no doubt that Owen was okay. I have no doubt that Owen truly knew that he was coming close to God, a God who loves him. A God who walked with him every step of the journey.”

Owen was laid to rest in St Patrick’s Cemetery following the service. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him. May he Rest in Peace.

Read more: Armagh family’s heartbreak as ‘gentle giant’ Owen loses brave battle with rare cancer

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Armagh