Tributes to food industry champion Shane McArdle who has died aged 40
A Co Armagh man who worked in the promotion of the food industry in Northern Ireland has died a day after marking the achievements of producers at an awards ceremony in Co Kerry.
Shane McArdle (40), who worked for economic development agency Invest NI, was found dead at home in Armagh on Monday.
Just 24 hours earlier, friends had breakfasted with him after the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards in Dingle.
It's understood the Ulster University graduate was found dead in bed.
He was a keen cyclist, and a member of Square Wheels Cycle Club in Moy.
A spokesman for Blas na hEireann said he had been lending his support to the awards for years, and had become an "integral part" of the event.
Mr McArdle was unmarried and is survived by girlfriend Lauren, along with parents Eugene and Cecilia, brothers Declan and Christopher and sister Oonagh.
His funeral will be held on Friday as brother Christopher is travelling home from New Zealand, where he recently started a new job.
For the last four years, Shane had worked as Invest NI head of business development in food and beverage in the Middle East and Asia.
A spokeswoman for Invest NI said: "Shane was held in the highest professional and personal regard by all his colleagues in Invest NI and by the wider Northern Ireland food and drink industry as well as by clients and food buyers in many parts of the world.
"Shane was passionate about the industry and worked tirelessly to ensure the success of local companies especially in terms of sales and marketing.
"He was a talented marketer with great integrity and attention to detail.
"In addition, Shane's vision, energy and dedication to the industry drove the creation of the new BuyNIFood website.
"Shane will be sadly missed by all who knew and were privileged to work with him. He was a great team player who led by example."
Mr McArdle had also travelled to Hong Kong last month with food producers including Hannan Meats, which is based in Moira.
Owner Peter Hannan said Mr McArdle had been an enthusiastic promoter of his own firm and the Northern Ireland food sector in general.
"My brother Jim was in Hong Kong with him just last month on a food trade mission," Mr Hannon said.
"You couldn't have met someone who was more enthusiastic about NI food and we will miss him greatly.
"He was just a terrific networker and a great salesman but he had a totally unobtrusive and lovely personality."
A Requiem Mass will be celebrated for Mr McArdle at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh at 10am on Friday.