Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to priest Fr Phelim McKeown who died suddenly

 Fr Phelim McKeown was found dead in his Co Armagh home on Saturday
Connla Young

Tributes have been paid to a popular priest found dead after he failed to turn up for Mass.

The remains of Fr Phelim McKeown (47) were discovered in a bed at his home at Caledon, Co Tyrone on Saturday.

Police said the sudden death is not thought to be suspicious, however a post mortem is to be carried out.

Fr McKeown was attached to the parish of Aughaloo and Carnteel, which takes in a large area around Caledon and Aughnacloy.

He had been expected to say the vigil Mass in the neighbouring parish of Eglish on Saturday when he failed to show up.

It is understood the parish priest at Aughaloo, Fr Sean McEvoy, was then contacted and made his way to Fr McKeown’s home where he made the discovery.

He had been appointed Pastor Emeritus and priest in residence in Caledon last year.

Originally from Mullaghbawn in south Armagh, Fr McKeown was ordained in 1996 and had previously served parishes in counties Louth and Armagh.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said he had to take leave due to ill health from 2016 but in recent months had begun a gradual return to pastoral duties. He described him as "a very caring and pastoral priest."

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen said Fr McKeown also helped out in the Moy and had “proved himself to be popular with local people”.

The chair of the pastoral council in Aughaloo and Carnteel Claire Boyle said: “He was very well liked and real nice fellow."

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