Brian Murray: Lurgan historian 'broke down barriers, made people connect and made us realise how much we actually have in common'
"Back in 2012 Brian had the vision to come up with the idea of a Facebook page for the people of Lurgan to enjoy, to reminisce and to bring everyone together.
“He loved to see people getting pleasure from each photo and most importantly he loved to see it cross the divide in our town.
“His work broke down barriers, made people connect and made us realise how much we actually have in common."
The heartfelt tribute by colleagues from Old Lurgan Photos, a Facebook page which shares images of the town from yesteryear, testifies to the wonderful legacy left by Brian Murray.
His passion for local history brought happiness to countless people and his passion for people and their welfare left an enduring mark on anyone he met.
Although his home in Hill Street was a treasure trove of all things Lurgan, Brian grew up on another Hill Street, in nearby Lisburn, where he and and his six brothers and sister were raised by their mother following the early death of their father.
He studied engineering after school and was working for Servis, repairing washing machines, when he met his wife Jean in the Top Hat ballroom in Lisburn. They married in 1972 and were rarely seen apart.
They made their home in Lurgan and from there Brian ran his own business, Craigavon Washing Machine Repairs, until his death aged 69.
His interest in local history was sparked by curiosity about his family tree, a project which began with a trip to the Public Records Office in Belfast and developed into an all-consuming hobby.
He started gathering old pictures of Lurgan and quickly earned a name as someone who could identify people and places in long-forgotten images.
Brian would devote several hours after work each evening to the Old Lurgan Photos page, answering messages, updating posts and sharing the stories that each picture would evoke.
He had recently branched out to create another page, Lisburn Memories, and his family and friends have pledged to keep both going in his memory.
"For Dad, to get a photo that had been hidden away for years was like finding treasure - he couldn't wait to get it onto the site and share it," his son Martin said.
"He also put so many people with connections to Lurgan in contact with each other, both locally and across the seas. He loved to bring people together."
Brian's enthusiasm for life and people was also immediately obvious on meeting him, and particularly for the family he adored.
"He was a very funny man and always had a smile on his face and a joke to share," Martin said.
"If you were ever struggling with something, he had the right advice and would help you see the brighter and happier side of the situation.
"He would never see anyone stuck and would happily put himself out to make it easier for someone.
"He was my father but he was also my best mate. It's hard losing such a big person in your life but to know he made such a big impact and touched so many other lives makes it a little bit easier."
Brian Murray died on May 7 and was buried in St Colman's Cemetery in Lurgan after Requiem Mass at St Paul's Church.
He is survived and sadly missed by his beloved wife Jean, children Sinead, Martin and Paul and grandchildren Erin and Daniel.