The parish priest conducting Sunday’s Requiem Mass for the south Armagh farmer killed in an accident near his Silverbridge home has spoken of “an upstanding and outstanding member of the parish who will be sadly missed”.
As the family of father-of-four Gene Murphy waited for his body to be returned home, Fr John Heagney described the deceased as “a pillar of the community, a fine gentleman from a fine family who are shattered by his death”.
Fr Heagney, parish priest of St Mary’s Mullaghbawn, said: “It’s such a difficult time for everyone. The entire community is deeply shocked at the sudden death of such a good man and decent man.
“The exact circumstances are still being studied by the authorities. The Mass will be a sad, solemn occasion.”
The fatal accident happened on Thursday afternoon. Farming publications were reporting that it may have involved agricultural machinery, possibly a tractor. It is thought that some sort of building work was being undertaken.
It is also believed that no one else was injured in the fatal accident.
Sinn Fein councillor Terry Hearty – a member of the Newry, Mourne and Down council who represents the Slieve Gullion area – said that Mr Murphy was a well-known member of the farming community who ran a suckler herd.
“I know the family and also run a small farm,” he added. “There are constant dangers on farms, and this is symptomatic of what can happen. The authorities must remain proactive and warn of the dangers. This area has lost a fine family man, a fine citizen. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Murphy family at this very sad time.”
Councillor Barra O Muiri – also Slieve Gullion – said that Mr Murphy, who is reported to be in his 70s, was well-known and respected in the local GAA club and in the wider farming community.
A statement from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) said: “We are investigating the death of a farmer following an incident involving construction work on a farm in the Silverbridge area. Our thoughts are with the family involved at this very difficult time.”
Mr Murphy’s death is the second agricultural tragedy in Northern Ireland within the past couple of weeks.
On August 15, Patrick Gerard Lively, 60, was killed in a crash involving a tractor in south Down. It happened near Hilltown, on the Bryansford Road at the junction with the Kinnahalla Road.
The Mass for Mr Murphy will be at St Mary’s Mullaghbawn on Sunday at 10.30am.