Described by those who knew and loved him as a modest, unassuming young man, Clonoe teenager Ronan Hughes was also someone who dedicated his free time to helping younger children at a local primary school.
In a letter which has been seen by thousands of people online, Principal of St Joseph’s PS in Galbally, Stephen Magennis, painted a picture of the caring individual who gave up one day every week to supporting Primary Three pupils with their reading.
Mr Magennis made the letter public after attending the funeral of Ronan last Tuesday morning in St Patrick’s Church in Clonoe.
Hundreds of people turned out to support Ronan’s parents Gerard and Theresa, brother Cathal and sister Liza, as they said their final farewells to the talented student.
Parish Priest Fr Benny Fee said Ronan’s life had been taken from him and that “somewhere in the world, maybe far, far away from Clonoe, is a man, a woman or a gang who are guilty of a heinous crime”.
Friends and team mates from Clonoe O’Rahilly’s formed a sea of black and white as they supported Ronan’s heartbroken family, while fellow students from his school, St Joseph’s Grammar, wept openly for the loss of the treasured young man.
Galbally principal Stephen Magennis said his school was “blessed” to have had Ronan share his time and enthusiasm with the children in Primary Three this year.
Mr Magennis continued: “Ronan gave up his free time in St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore, to come to our school every Wednesday morning from October - March of this year, to take part in a ‘Reading Support Programme’ with our P3 children, as part of the ‘Link Up Programme’ between our two schools.
“Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends. Ronan’s short life ended as a direct result of online bullying and extortion.
“The internet and social media that is part of daily life today, while being a fantastic resource and tool, bringing him immeasurable good to our world can also be used for vicious and evil purposes.”
Mr Magennis claimed police are investigating an international link to Ronan’s death, suggesting that he was the victim of a “gang of criminals, from a foreign country, who prey on innocent people throughout the world”.
The principal encouraged parents and educators to send out a constant and consistent message to children that they should never give personal information to unknown people on social media and other websites.