An Aughnacloy church was filled to capacity yesterday with those paying their last respects to a ‘jolly’ farmer who considered his cattle to be his family.
Nigel Murray, 54, died after being attacked by a bull on his Aughnacloy farm on Saturday.
The bull was destroyed and the Health and Safety Executive is investigating.
Rev Ian McKee, minister at Aughnacloy Presbyterian Church, told the News Letter that the church was full to capacity – with some 300 people – for the funeral.
“I guess an overwhelming sense of shock was prevalent,” Rev McKee said.
He told mourners: “Nigel, as we all know, was a happy, jolly, easy going friend to all – who died as he lived – with his animals that he loved.”
Mr Murray was born in 1962 – the younger son of William and Stella and brother to Wilfred. Tragically, their father died in October 1970 when Nigel was just eight years old.
The boys had to grow up quickly and assume responsibilities far beyond their years.
“But Nigel was happiest when he was out with his animals. He loved and cared for all his animals like a ‘family’. His Ayrshire herd were his pride and joy and he loved every opportunity to share stories with others and show off his new calves.”
As a result, the first hymn sung in the service was All Things Bright And Beautiful.
Neighbours remarked how Mr Murray could at times be heard in deep conversation on the farm – talking to his animals.
His other interests included Lisgenny Flute Band and the Orange Order.
He volunteered to be part of the steering group to build a new church hall; and suggested selling turf to raise funds.
“Nigel was very close to his mother Stella, and cared for her so attentively, especially during her later years of dementia,” said the minister.
He was heartbroken by her passing in October 2011 but neither brother could have done more for their mother.
Mr Murray was very supportive towards his neighbours and friends.
Wilfred and his cousin Alison McMullan were “deeply moved” by the reciprocative love from many neighbours helping run the farm since the weekend.
“Despite many challenges in life, Nigel was rarely without a smile,” said the minister. “We will miss his humour, his friendship, his kindness, his dependability and his devotion to ‘his family’ – the Ayrshire herd!”
He asked mourners to consider the suddenness of Mr Murray’s death.
“Life is too short to withhold expressions of affection from a loved one – too short to bear grudges – too short to refuse to say sorry – and it’s certainly too short to mess around with God!”