Funerals held for two men who died in separate falls on Mourne Mountains
MOURNERS at the funerals of two men who died in separate falls on the Mourne Mountains heard yesterday they were both devoted to their families and shared a passion for walking.
There were emotional scenes at both services yesterday as the family and friends of Sean Byrne (64) and Robert Robinson, also in his sixties, gathered in Camlough, Co Armagh, and Banbridge, Co Down, to say their final farewells.
The men died in separate accidents on the Co Down mountain range within an hour of each other on Sunday.
Mr Byrne died on Wee Binnian shortly before lunchtime, while Mr Robinson, a former senior RUC and PSNI officer, died on Slieve Commedagh shortly before 1pm.
Hundreds of people packed into the Church of St Malachy, Carrickcruppen, to remember Mr Byrne, a father-of-three and grandfather-of-six.
Mr Byrne, a trustee and former treasurer of Craobh Rua Camlocha hurling club, had been walking with a friend to take photographs when the tragedy happened.
Members of the club formed a guard of honour outside the church yesterday in tribute to a man who gave "freely of his time" to help the club develop.
Fr Sean Larkin told mourners that the "circumstances of Sean's death in the Mournes were all the more tragic because he enjoyed walking in the Mournes".
The parish priest spoke about Mr Byrne's love of photography and work in helping his local community, including many elderly people, as well as devoting years of his life to Craobh Rua Camlocha.
"He was also well-known and respected in the wider community," he said.
Fr Larkin said Mr Byrne was undoubtedly a "family man who lived for his family".
"He was always there whenever anyone needed him," he said.
"He had a unique and special bond with all his children and grandchildren... Sean knew the personality of his children.
"He was a happy person who enjoyed life."
Following the Requiem Mass, two hurls were placed on his grave as he was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.
Meanwhile, during a funeral service at Holy Trinity Church in Banbridge yesterday afternoon, Mr Robinson was remembered as a "thoughtful, caring and considerate" man.
Hundreds of friends, family and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to the retired police superintendent, who was described as the "best boss they ever worked for".
Roderick West, archdeacon of Dromore and Rector of Seapatrick Parish, told mourners Mr Robinson's life had been "cut short by a tragic accident" when he slipped on damp ground near the top of Slieve Commedagh.
The Church of Ireland minister described how the father-of-two and grandfather-of-three "always had an interest in sport" including a passion for walking.
"He was a very experienced hill walker, walking regularly every week," he said.
"He has walked on mountains all over the world, including Mount Sinai and Table Mountain in South Africa, he walked in Vietnam, Cambodia, Borneo, Morocco and other places.
"He did the 7 Peaks challenge, every year for the past six or seven years. He also participated in a number of walking groups. He was always willing to share his passion by introducing others to the joy of hill walking."
The minister said Mr Robinson also "enjoyed helping, supporting and encouraging others, being there for others".
"He was thoughtful, caring and considerate. He could be direct, if he needed to be," he said.
"He was witty, and of course, there was that smile."