Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

New Zealand disaster brings grief to Irish border village

Debris litter central Christchurch, New Zealand, following an earthquake Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing at least 65 people and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
A group of people travel with Glacier Explorers to see one of the many icebergs that caved into Tasman Lake as a result of the 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, February 22, 2011. The quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, Denis Callesen) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Members from the Grampian Fire and Rescue Service prepare to join the search-and-rescue effort in New Zealand
Eighteen year-old Libby Manning cries after being told there is no chance of survivors in CTV building in Christchurch, New Zealand , Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, after the city was hit by a 6.3 earthquake Tuesday, Feb 22. Her mother Donna, was trapped in the destroyed building.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
A woman is pulled from the rubble after an earthquake in Christchurch February 22, 2011.
An injured person is carried by rescue workers after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand (AP)
Police use a sniffer dog to search for people in destroyed buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand (AP)
A wounded woman is helped by others following a strong earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.
Rescue workers sift through the debris of a collapsed building after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday Tuesday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Two men look at a damaged building in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing and trapping dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA/Ashburton Guardian, Kirsty Graham) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Liquification bubbles to the surface in front of a damaged house in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing and trapping dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA/Ashburton Guardian, Kirsty Graham) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Rescue workers block off a collapsed building in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.
A collapsed building is barricaded following an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday Tuesday, killing and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
People are evacuated from a health clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday Tuesday, killing and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
Rescue workers work to extinguish a fire at a collapsed building in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing and trapping dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
In this image made from video run by New Zealand's TVNZ, people stand in the rubble of collapsed building following a strong earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The strong, 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Tuesday, seriously injuring people and damaging buildings throughout the city. (AP Photo/TVNZ via Associated Press Television News) NEW ZEALAND OUT, TV OUT
In this image made from video run by New Zealand's TVNZ, a wounded woman is helped by others following a strong earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Tuesday, seriously injuring people and damaging buildings throughout the city. (AP Photo/TVNZ via Associated Press Television News) NEW ZEALAND OUT, TV OUT
Rescue workers search for victims after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Rescue workers climb onto the collapsed Pyne Gould Guinness Building in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing at least 65 people and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
Cars are abandoned on a flooded street after a strong earthquake in suburban Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing at least 65 people and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
An injured women is dug out of rubble by rescue workers after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday Tuesday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Bodies are covered after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
An injured person is carried by rescue workers after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday Tuesday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
Debris crush a car outside the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The 6.3-magnitude quake hit at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing dozens of people in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/NZPA, David Wethey) NEW ZEALAND OUT, NO ARCHIVES, NO SALES
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Crushed cars are seen in a car parking building on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
Rescue workers climb onto the collapsed Pyne Gould Guinness Building in central Christchurch, New Zealand (AP)
Rescue workers sift through the debris of a collapsed building after an earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand (AP)
The spire of the iconic stone Christchurch Cathedral toppled into a central city square during the earthquake (AP)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: A smashed car is seen in a car parking building on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Collapsed buildings and debris along Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: A man runs for cover on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 23: Bus covered in building debris on February 23, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: A man lies injured on Manchester street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Collapsed buildings in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Cars covered in building debris on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 23: Rescue workers search for survivors on February 23, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Collapsed buildings and debris are seen on Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Collapsed buildings in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescue workers search for survivors through debris on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Collapsed buildings and debris are seen along Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescue workers search for survivors on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 22: Rescuers search for survivors in a collapsed building in Manchester Street on February 22, 2011 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake - an aftershock of the 7.1 magnitude quake on September 4 - struck 20km southeast of Christchurch at around 1pm local time, with initial reports suggesting damage and fatalities far exceeding the initial quake. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

One is a sprawling city on New Zealand’s south island, the other a close-knit, rural community nestled just across the Irish border.

Separated by thousands of miles, on opposite sides of the world, there is little to connect Christchurch to the Co Monaghan parish of Truagh. But yesterday, these two places were brought together by tragedy.

Despite emigrating to Christchurch some years previously, Owen McKenna, a 41-year-old psychiatric nurse, was still well known in Truagh. He died in the earthquake as he was returning from a shopping trip. Reports said his car was crushed under a falling building.

His wife Sarah, a New Zealand national, and their children Grace (7) and Tadhg — who turns four tomorrow — were away visiting her family on another island as the disaster struck.

Last night his relatives in Ireland were planning to travel to New Zealand to bring his body home for burial.

Special prayers were said for Owen, and the other victims of the earthquake, in the local Catholic church yesterday.

Fr Nolan said the family’s faith was helping them deal with the tragedy. “They are devastated of course, but they are people of great faith,” he said.

Friends and neighbours in Truagh have fond memories of Owen growing up in the area, a quiet community situated between Aughnacloy and Emyvale.

Yesterday, a steady stream of mourners visited the family home, in the townland of Brackagh, while cars lined the road outside.

Like many rural parishes, one of the focal points is the GAA club. The McKenna family are closely associated with Truagh Gaels GAC.

Club official Adrian Sherry said members were shocked by the tragedy.

“Owen would always have attended a match any time he was back home,” he said. “It is very sad for all of us.”

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