'I will never forget your smile' - sister of rap fan Sean (15) who died after flu
The sister of Finglas teenager Sean Hughes, who died suddenly last Friday after developing a bad cough, paid a heart-breaking tribute to her younger brother as she vowed: "As long as I live, I will never forget your big, bright smile".
Sean's own rap songs were played at his funeral yesterday as his grief-stricken pals turned out in their hundreds to pay their final respects to the talented writer and performer known locally as 'Lil Red'.
Sean's parents, Karen and Joe, and sister, Zoe, led the mourners as his coffin was brought to St Canice's Church in Finglas.
Sean (15) had only taken ill at home last Wednesday, and when his health deteriorated rapidly, he was brought to Temple Street Children's Hospital but did not recover.
Parish priest Fr Richard Hyland paid tribute to the much-loved teenager, quoting the music fan's very own rap lyrics.
"For all who knew and loved Sean, we know how much rap meant to him. In listening to his songs, the real personality of Sean shines through," he said.
"He tells us, 'Like the sun in the sky, I am going to shine bright'. That was Sean. He brought fun, he brought life into the lives of others.
"He sang, 'Listen to me, cos I am sincere'. What he sang, he really meant.
"For example, 'Education and dedication, non-discrimination that is how we change a nation'. He loved his school and he loved his friends," said Fr Hyland, adding that family and friends meant most to Sean.
"He was one of those generous people who got the deepest satisfaction when he was caring for others.
"I know that for many of you here this morning, your hearts are breaking. The loss of a son, a brother, a grandson, a best friend," he said.
Symbols of Sean's life brought to the altar included copies of his songs, his runners, a bottle of aftershave, the flag from his Colaiste Eoin school and a book of memories compiled by his classmates.
Sean's classmates recorded their own powerful and emotionally charged rap song, with their own messages of love and respect, dedicated to Lil Red, which was played to mourners.
At the end of the Mass, Sean's sister, Zoe, paid an emotional tribute to her little brother.
"You've no idea how much you mean to me, Sean. I've never been so proud of you, Lil Red," she said.
"You were the best son, brother, cousin and friend.
"Every memory of you I will cherish forever. As long as I live, I will never forget your big bright smile. I love you more than words can say."
As his coffin was being prepared to be taken from the church, one of Sean's songs played over the speakers.
It had a strong anti-drugs message and promoted following your heart and dreams to achieve your best in life.
"Don't be misled, don't smoke weed, don't be a dope head," he sang.
Sean's friends cried openly and held each other as his coffin passed, all the while joining in the song Stand By Me being sang by the choir. A guard of honour from Colaiste Eoin lined the car park of the church as his body was brought to Glasnevin cemetery for burial.
Sean had just returned to school after the Christmas break when he became ill last Wednesday.
He died early on Friday at Temple Street Hospital.
The teenager, who had no underlying health complaints, deteriorated within hours of flu-like symptoms taking hold.
Speaking to the Herald, Sean's mother, Karen, said: "My heart is broken into a million pieces and it'll never be fixed."