Victims of unusual double tragedy were each family-focussed people

Mr McKeown died after coming to the aid of Primrose Campbell, pictured
Mr McKeown died after coming to the aid of Primrose Campbell, pictured

The victims of a bizarre double tragedy were both described as dedicated family people, as each were laid to rest at separate funerals on Monday.

Conor McKeown, 46, succumbed to a fatal heart attack on Friday morning shortly after arriving at the scene of a crash involving his employee Primrose Campbell, 58.

It happened just outside McKeown Fine Foods, a turkey processing factory between Portglenone and Rasharkin.

Mr McKeown’s parish priest Father John Murray said the service at Rasharkin’s St Mary’s chapel had so many mourners spilling outside the church that “you could have held it all over again”.

The service was taken by Father Liam Blayney, who told the News Letter that Mr McKeown (who lived beside the factory) had been interested in turkey farming since boyhood, and had built up a business which employed up to 200 staff during the busy Christmas period.

He said: “He had a very simple management philosophy: you must earn the respect of your employees.”

In this regard he was “absolutely” successful.

“He never would ask an employee to do a job he wouldn’t do himself. He dressed the same as everybody else – white coat, hairnet, same as all the rest of them. What every worker did, he did.”

Fr Blayney is a long-standing friend of the McKeown family, and knew of no obvious health problems in Conor.

The 46-year-old had run marathons in the past, and Fr Blayney told of how he once cycled from Rosslare (in the far south-east of Ireland) to Rasharkin; starting at 5.30am, ending at 10.30pm.

Fr Blayney called him a “very dedicated family man”, adding that he and his widow Fiona had three sons, and were “very thankful to God for the good gifts they had”.

He was buried at the Rasharkin churchyard.

Primrose McKeown’s family staged her funeral at the family’s Ballymoney home.

It was also well-attended by family, neighbours and friends and the service was taken by Rev Hugh Cubitt of 1st Kilraughts Presbyterian, with which she was affiliated.

“She was very much somebody who cared for her family – I know they are obviously devastated,” he said, adding that she had two sons and a daughter.

“It’s a very big gap in their lives now, because she was very much a lady dedicated to family and friends.”

“I think the community was just in shock. People were shocked... It was honestly just a mood of grief and shock.”

She was buried at Kilraughts Reformed Presbyterian churchyard.