Tributes were paid to “a lovely man” who died with his wife in their his mobile home in Newcastle this week.
Initial reports suggested Francis and Nan O’Reilly, both in their mid-70s, may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Although this has not yet been confirmed police say that they are not treating their deaths as suspicious.
The couple had lived in a permanent mobile home at Bonnys Caravan Park off the Tullybrannigan Road in Newcastle for 30 years and were widely known in the local community.
Yesterday a police car blocked the entrance to the eight-home park where residents live year-round, separate from the main caravan park. Police tape blocked the entrance and was also strung around the home belonging to the couple as officials from the Health and Safety Executive arrived to continue investigations.
Neighbour Frank Kane said he “just could not believe” the news.
“I was speaking to them the day before in the supermarket,” he told the News Letter. “Francie was very helpful – the only man I knew who had not a bad word to say about anybody.”
Mr O’Reilly would have been constantly lending a hand to pensioners in the area, especially with regards gardening, he said.
“He would have been up and down the road with his wheelbarrow doing gardens,” he said. “We are mostly pensioners around here and Francie would always have been helping out someone or other.
“He was very much into gardens. He had a big red rose around his garden.”
Mr O’Reilly had spent his working life “up on the mountains with the sheep”, he said.
“When you think about it when things are cold – maybe they left a wee fire on, it gets cold at night here,” he said, looking up the nearby Mourne Mountains covered in snow.
The former sheep farmer had been very personable.
“He would have been at chapel every morning cracking with people,” Mr Kane said. “Once he started talking to you he could be 20 minutes. He did not look his age.”
Emlyn Williamson, manager of Bonnys Caravan Park, told the News Letter that his former resident had been so attentive to other residents’ needs that he was “like a caretaker”.
“Nobody ever said a bad word about him in 30 years,” he said.
He was originally from Mourne while his wife was from Newcastle, he said.
“Our thoughts are all with their families at this time.”
A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive said they are investigating the incident. Police have appealed for anyone who saw the couple in recent days to contact CID at Downpatrick.