A Co Tyrone farmer who was tragically killed after an incident involving a bull has been described as a “sincere, unassuming and hard-working family man”.
Hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects at the funeral of 75-year-old Alex McKinley in Gillygooley Presbyterian Church, near Omagh, today.
The freak accident occurred on Tuesday afternoon at the farm Mr McKinley had been given as a wedding gift by his father.
The tragic incident has devastated his family and stunned the local community.
It is understood the pensioner had recently recovered from a serious illness.
Rev Robert Herron, the Minister of Trinity and Gillygooley Presbyterian Churches, who knew Mr McKinley for more than 20 years, said the incident had come as a real shock to local people.
Paying tribute to Mr McKinley, Rev Herron told the News Letter: “He believed in fairness for all and would have helped anyone in their hour of need.”
He described the father-of-four as a “quiet, hard working and devoted family man”.
Mr McKinley worked as a bin lorry driver for over 40 years , until he retired at the age of 65.
Rev Herron added: “Driving the bin lorry was a job that suited Alex. He started the day at 6 am and was finished shortly after dinner time.
“This gave him time in the afternoon and evening for his main passion - farming.”
According to Rev Herron, Mr McKinley became very interested in a specific breed of cattle that was exported to Britain from France in significant numbers in 1960s – the Limousine breed.
He added: “In 1982, Alex purchased his first cow which was the beginning of his interest in the breed.
“Over the years, he increased the herd of pedigree Limousine cattle and, at the same time, he won several 1st places for his stock at local agricultural shows.”
In his eulogy to Mr McKinley, Rev Herron revealed he had been haunted by a conversation he had with the father-of-four several months ago.
He added: “Over a cup of tea, Alex was sharing with me the challenges faced today by those who work with cattle.
“We had been talking about someone who had been injured by a cow.
“None of us will ever really know the precise details of Alex’s tragic death. We have no control over past events, including life’s tragedies, but we do have some control over how we deal them, and try to come to terms with them.”
Mr McKinley leaves behind his wife Margaret and children Raymond, Linda, Avril, and Trevor.