Northern Ireland

‘Even now, it is just unthinkable what has happened’ - Families pay tribute as first three funerals held after four die in Armagh crash tragedy

Co Armagh crash victims (left to right) Keith Morrison, Emma Mallon, Phil Mitchell and Marina Crilly
Co Armagh crash victims (left to right) Keith Morrison, Emma Mallon, Phil Mitchell and Marina Crilly

THE heartbroken families of four young victims of a crash in Co Armagh have shared emotional tributes as three of the funerals were held on Friday, calling their losses “unthinkable”.

Mother-of-one Marina Crilly (24) from Ballymacnab, Phillip Mitchell (27) from Markethill, Keith Morrison (22) from Tynan and Emma Mallon (22) from Middletown were killed after the Volkswagen Golf they were travelling in struck a tree on the Ballynahonemore Road near Armagh around 2.10am on Sunday.

All four were declared dead at the scene after it was understood the car burst into flames upon impact.

Ms Crilly’s funeral service took place at St Patrick’s Church, Ballymacnab, on Friday morning followed Mr Morrison’s Lislooney Presbyterian Church, Tynan, and Mr Mitchell’s in First Presbyterian Church Armagh.

Ms Mallon’s service is due to take place this Sunday at 2pm in St John’s Church, Middletown.

A family notice for Ms Crilly called her the beloved daughter of Sally and the late Jason as well as a devoted mother to her son Cillian.

“Keeping all who carry a heavy cross this day in our thoughts and prayers, we pray especially for Sally Crilly and the Crilly and Boyle families on this very sad day,” a post from her parish Facebook page read on Friday.

Staff and residents at Greenpark Nursing home, where Ms Crilly worked, also spoke of their devastation.

Mr Morrison’s step-mother, Christine Wright, spoke on Friday of his love for farming with his father Alwyn from a young age.

“Such a kind, caring, lovable, little rouge, the cheeky grin and the sparkle in his eyes,” she said.

“He would have done anything to help anyone and took great joy in helping out people but don’t ask him during silage season.”

With four sisters, she said the importance of family and friends to him had been shown in the outpouring of support in recent days.

“He seemed to have touched their lives and it shows with the number of good close friends he had,” she said.

“We are all so proud of this young man and what he has accomplished in a short life. We want this to be a celebration of a young life. We will miss him.”

A statement from the Mitchell family said: “This is not something that we ever expected to have to write.

“While our hearts are broken, our love and deepest sympathy goes out to the families of Marina, Emma, and Keith, who lost their lives so tragically along with Philip at the weekend.

“Even now, it is just unthinkable what has happened and we still can’t really take it in.”

Thanking all of those who had sent messages of support, they also expressed their gratitude for the emergency services who attended the scene that night.

“Our family will be forever grateful for your efforts and bravery,” they said.

“Philip was more than just a member of our family; he was a bright light in the lives of all who knew him.

“He had a zest for life that was infectious, a kind soul that touched everyone he met, and a smile that could light up any room.

“He has left a huge void in our lives that can never be filled and we will never stop missing him.”

A family notice said Ms Mallon was a beloved daughter, sister and aunt.

Earlier this week, colleagues at Spar Monaghan also remembered her as a friend to all who was “always helpful and smiling”.

The funeral of Emma Mallon from Middletown is to take place on Sunday. PICTURE: SPAR
The funeral of Emma Mallon from Middletown is to take place on Sunday. PICTURE: SPAR