The Funeral Mass of two-year-old Antrim boy Noah McAleese will take place this afternoon. The ‘precious’ little boy died in a devastating farm accident on Friday. It is understood the toddler passed away after he was hit by a tractor at Rosepark farm in Ballymoney, described as one of Northern Ireland’s leading family fun farms.
The death of the little boy, who celebrated his second birthday just days ago, has plunged the local community into deep heartache and shock.
A Mass of the Angels will take place in St. Joseph’s Church in Dunloy, Co Antrim today, followed by burial. The family has requested that mourners wear something blue for Noah.
“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs,” the funeral notice read.
The popular 70-acre farm opened to the public in 2015 – complete with an award-winning petting zoo, beach and enchanted forest – remained closed over the weekend, transformed from a place of family fun into a scene of despair and devastation.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said that it received a 999 call about the incident at 12:32 pm on Friday. Paramedics were dispatched to the farm, and the child was brought to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine where he died.
McKiernan’s funeral directors confirmed the news of the toddler’s passing. It shared a family notice which described Noah as “the precious son of Johnny and Corrina and adored brother of Cohen”.
It added that the little boy was “adored and never forgotten by the entire McAleese and Cassidy family circle”.
The notice from the funeral directors in Kilrea was accompanied by a beautiful recent photo of the gorgeous little boy, carrying a wheelbarrow of pumpkins from Rosepark farm’s popular pumpkin patch.
Police and other agencies are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident which took place on Friday.
A police spokesperson said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSE NI) and Environmental Health from the Causeway Coast and Glens Council to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a two-year-old boy in the Bravallen Road area of Ballymoney.”
They also said local officers were continuing to support the family of Noah.
Prayers were offered for the toddler and his grieving family over the weekend, with local priest Fr Darren Brennan saying: “There are no words, it’s an unspeakable tragedy as the community struggles to come to terms with Noah’s loss.
“The McAleese family are held in very high regard in the entire community, they are a wonderful family and all I can say is that they are coping as well as they can with their grief,” Fr Brennan said.
“Well, how does anybody cope with a tragedy of this scale? All they can do is rely on each other, on the community, on their faith and that’s all you really have”.
He also said he believed the whole community has been affected by the trauma of the incident, adding that prayers were offered for the McAleese and Cassidy families during Mass on Sunday.
Tributes have poured in since the heart-breaking news became public, including from a local GAA club and several politicians.
Nearby GAA club Dunloy Cuchullains, where Noah’s father Johnny had been a player, said it was “deeply saddened” by the awful news. It held a minute’s silence before a game against Dungloe on Saturday.
“Everyone at Dunloy GA+CC was deeply saddened to hear the tragic news yesterday of the sudden passing of Noah McAleese,” they said in a statement on social media.
“Noah is the son of our former player Johnny and his wife Corrina. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the entire McAleese and Cassidy family circles at this very sad time”.
Ballymoney DUP councillor Mervyn Storey said the family of the boy have been plunged into “incalculable” sorrow.
“Words are hard to find in commenting on this tragic incident that has resulted in the death of a little two-year-old boy,” Mr Storey said, adding: “It is incalculable the sorrow that this family has been plunged into.”
North Antrim MLA Dr Patricia O’Lynn also shared her condolences. She said her thoughts were with Noah’s family who are facing “unspeakable heartbreak”.
“Ballymoney is a close-knit town and this news has sent waves of grief across the community,” she said.
Taking to social media on Sunday, Noah’s father Johnny thanked people for the outpouring of support, writing: “Corrina and I would like to thank everyone for their support and kind words over these last few days”. He said the family would be grateful if mourners could wear “something blue for Noah” at the funeral Mass this afternoon.