Mourners who packed Holy Cross Church, Charleville, for the Requiem Mass of Anthony Ward, 8, forced back tears as they heard numerous tributes paid to the schoolboy and his mother.
Mr Ryan said he hoped to continue his friendship with Ms Ward and said his only regret was that he didn’t buy a horse for Anthony sooner.
The father bought his beloved son a pony, Tonto, which led the funeral cortege from the church through the town’s main street — which was packed along the route with mourners — to his final resting place in the local cemetery.
Mr Ryan said Anthony had asked him to buy a horse, but he thought it was better to wait until he was older.
Pupils from Anthony’s school, Shandrum National School in Newtownshandrum, led by principal Carmel Walmsley, formed a guard of honour as his body was taken from the church on its final journey.
They were joined by mem-bers of the local taekwondo club, of which Anthony was a popular member.
Parish priest Canon Seán Cotter offered the sympathy of local priests and the entire community to Anthony’s father, mother, and other relatives.
He described Anthony as “a lovely handsome young lad”.
He said people could not understand what had happened, but assured the family that God would give them the strength to carry on.