The small chapel of Derrytrasna was overflowing, with dozens standing outside, for last Friday’s funeral of Lawrence McKavanagh.
Lawrence, who was a member of a well-known family and had a wide circle of friends, died late last Tuesday night, less than half an hour before his 27th birthday.
He suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday night and was resuscitated befor being taken to Craigavon Area Hospital, where he died peacefully.
In tribute to their music-mad mate, his friends, including Chris McAlinden, Dean Irwin and PJ McCleery, quickly organised the production of two CDs, ‘Lawrence’s Greatest Hits’.
One is a compilation of the songs that his family will remember him by, and another of songs that have special meaning to his friends.
The total £1,216 raised from the CD sales and other donations will go to the Cuan Mhuire addiction charity, chosen by Lawrence’s parents Joan McKavanagh and Simon Magill.
Explaining their choice of charity, Joan said, “Addiction is one of society’s least understood illnesses, yet it destroys the lives of so many.
“We hope that the money raised ... will raise awareness of the condition and help ease the suffering of all those living with addiction and their families.”
Friends have described Lawrence as “the life and soul of any group”, who never had a bad word to say about anybody and was always there if you needed him.
His mother Joan said her son was “very gentle” with a love for music, the craic and people. “I know every mother thinks their son is special but there was something very special about my son,” she said.
Lawrence spent his first 10 year in the High Moss, Derrytrasna, where his grandparents Oliver and Lelia McKavanagh lived, after which the family moved into town. He trained and worked as a chef, and always loved cooking.
During the past year, he had worked in Moy Park where, him mum said, he was very happy.
Joan takes great comfort from knowing that Lawrence spent his final day with his family. She said, “I went out with him on Saturday so he could buy a new shirt for his birthday. Then we went to mass for First Holy Communion and back to the Migh Moss for a big family party.
“The High Moss is where Lawrence grew up and where his spiritual home will always be. He got his strength and his love of nature from his ‘papa’ Oliver.
“We hope people will remember Lawrence with happiness, not regret, as we will. He is safe now.”
Chris mcAlinden, who had known Lawrence since he was nine, said his friend had inspired him to go into film-making, which he now pursuses as a carrer with his company Cmore films.
He said, “What made him special to me is his love for performing in front of people and the fact he brought filmmaking into my life. He had this little Hi8 Camera where he directed us to do these little comedy scenes and it was at that point I knew that film was what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’.
“In Greek mythology, Gelos is the divine personification of laughter. This was Lawrence, Lurgans Gelos. He would lighten up any moment with his animated personality and his clumsy way of tripping over anything in front, or behind, him.”
He added, “Lawrence loved Derrytrasna, going to see his family and fishing. He was the type of guy who would sponsor a snow leopard, even if he was unemployed at the time. He was the guy who would force you to chill out while he experimented with a new cooking venture. He was the air guitar champion of Ireland (in our eyes).
“Everyone who knew Lawrence knew he loved his music. At a time when we as young people were under threat of listening to bands such as Backstreet Boys, S Club 7 and Westlife, Lawrence blasted The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley and Prince through Joan’s house.”
PJ McCleary, who knew Lawrence for over 15 years, said, “He never had a bad word to say about anyone and was always there if you needed him and always made you smile no matter how bad your day had been.. Known to all that knew him as a ‘Legend and true friend’.”
.beloved son of Joan McKavanagh and Simon Magill and loving grandson of Oliver and Lelia McKavanagh and Terry and the late Veronica Magill. Deeply missed by his mother Joan and her partner Mark, father Simon and his wife Liz, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts and his many good friends.