Aoibhe O’Connor, aged 11, from Mogeely in East Cork, passed away unexpectedly at home on Wednesday. It is understood she suffered cardiac arrest after a minor fall.
Aoibhe, who was a pupil at Inch National School, had an ultra-rare genetic condition called mucolipidosis. She was understood to have been the only person in Ireland with the life-limiting condition.
But her death, just days after her dream-come-true meeting with Sheeran, came as a complete shock.
A photograph of her beaming from ear-to-ear alongside the ‘Castle on the Hill’ star was published in Tuesday’s Irish Examiner.
Her special meet-and-greet was organised with the help of 96FM’s breakfast show presenter, KC, who approached Aiken Promotions with the special request, who in turn contacted Sheeran’s management.
The star invited Aoibhe, her sister Lauren, and their parents John and Emma, backstage before the opening gig of his European tour in Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Friday night.
John told the Irish Examiner on Monday Sheeran spent several minutes with the girls, chatting to them about their favourite music and posing for photographs.
He said Aoibhe was so excited to meet him and said Sheeran couldn’t have been more accommodating.
He said it was all part of their ongoing efforts to make “memories for life” for her for however long that life may have been.
He described her as a bright and bubbly child who loved Sheeran’s music, playing his CDs on repeat constantly, and who loved being part of the Rebel Wheeler wheelchair sports group.
Aoibhe, who was a QueenBee ambassador for the childrens’ national ambulance service, Bumbleance, was remembered last night as an “amazing young lady” by the charity’s co-founder, Tony Heffernan.
“I am personally shocked and very sad. I know what it’s like to lose a child. There are just no words,” he said.
She was a powerful little package, full of laughter and joy. I have reached out to her parents and family to tell them that we are here to provide whatever support we can as they prepare for that lonely walk with their child.
Aoibhe is survived by her heartbroken parents, John and Emma; by her sisters Lauren, eight, and Megan, three; grandparents and her great-grandmother, Elsie.
She will be buried after 11am requiem Mass in St John the Baptist Church, Killeagh, on Sunday.