Thousands of mourners packed into the Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, in Co. Derry on Sunday for the funeral mass of Patrick Friel-Curran.

The 23-year-old man died suddenly in New York last Tuesday. The young man was taken to hospital suffering from back pain the previous Sunday. Two days later his organs shut down. His family were at his side when doctors removed him from life support, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

A long distance runner, Friel completed the Derry Marathon in June. He had planned to run the New York Marathon in November.

Father Christopher Ferguson told the mourners that the young man was pursuing his dreams in New York.

He said: "Patrick was regarded as a great friend and was known for having plenty of energy.

"He recently finished his degree in psychology and wanted to open a bar in New York.

"His family were amazed by the generosity and support by the local community.

"His family described him as a great person. He was involved in running and recently completed two marathons."

Following his tragic death, fundraising campaigns were launched both sides of the Atlantic to help his family bring his remains home to Ireland.

His remains arrived home on Friday, after what his family described as an “amazing” response.

In a message posted on the Patrick Friel Curran Memorial Facebook page, Patrick’s heartbroken father, Damien, thanked the people of Derry for their generosity.

He wrote: “Hi folks, I just wanted to say how grateful to you and to the people of this amazing city. The pain of losing my beautiful son has been and will be the hardest thing I will ever have to go through.

“Patrick Friel Curran and I had an amazing relationship. We were both good friends and father and son. He inspired me to become the man that I am today –  at one low stage of my life being my reason for living. You mean so much to me.

“I have been talking to a lot of people and close friends and family over this past week – their support in getting him home has well exceeded the costs of bringing him home. I hope to use these funds in his honour by building a school for the poor and destitute children of India through a local charity called Action With Effect.

“There are still a number of events organised by people around the city and I, as his father, would be grateful to you in supporting this great cause. As this would be of great comfort for me to know that his legacy would live on. Thanks again, Derry.”

He is survived by his mother Linda, father Damien and siblings Damian, Kyle, Daryl, Samara and Rebecca, as well as step-siblings Michael and Cathy.