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Larne cleric 'not shocked' at stabbing after Traveller wedding

Pat Buckley said he "wasn't totally shocked" to hear about the fatal stabbing. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
Brendan Hughes

A cleric who officiated at a Traveller wedding in Co Antrim has said he was not shocked that violence erupted after the celebration, leaving one man dead.

Peter Conroy (25), from Clondalkin near Dublin, died in hospital after he was stabbed during a row in the city in the early hours of yesterday.

It is thought a brawl involving around 15 people broke out inside a B&B in Palmerstown, west Dublin at around 3.45am before spilling out onto the street.

Some of the guests had attended a wedding in Larne on Monday afternoon before travelling to Sallynoggin in Co Dublin for the reception.

Detectives were yesterday questioning a 40-year-old man as part of the murder investigation.

Independent bishop Pat Buckley led the wedding service between Patrick Connors and Brittania Loveridge, both aged 20 and from Ballybrack, south Dublin.

He told last night how four young men approached him before the ceremony and asked for a blessing to "keep them safe".

"Now I'm wondering was trouble expected. Travellers like priests and they like their religion. It's normal for the women to ask for a blessing but it would be unusual for four young men to ask," he said.

The 63-year-old, who has officiated at Traveller weddings for three decades, said he "wasn't totally shocked" on learning of the fatal stabbing.

"I think it's very sad. It is the exact opposite of what should happen on a happy day but sadly these things do happen at Traveller weddings because of family feuds," he said.

"I'm a very sad about it and very sad that a young man lost his life, but I'm slightly grateful that it didn't happen here."

The cleric said the wedding at his oratory in Larne was attended by about 20 people and passed off without major incident.

"A few of the guests did arrive with a lot of alcohol taken but that's quite normal for Traveller weddings. The wedding went quite normally," he said.

He said a local photographer took pictures at Larne harbour before the couple and guests left for a reception across the border.

Some of the guests were staying at the B&B in Dublin where the bloody fight broke out.

Four people were injured during the row with three being treated for minor injuries in hospital.

In February a bride's uncle was shot dead at a Traveller wedding outside a Catholic church in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh.

The priest went ahead with the marriage ceremony despite the shooting of the Co Longford man after the teenage couple's relatives urged him to continue.

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