Belfast Telegraph

Grieving partner in tribute to tragic Co Down musician

By Cate McCurry

The heartbroken fiance of a talented musician who died suddenly last week has spoken of how he helped bring communities together.

Mark Mooney (32), who performed in churches across Belfast, died at the home he shared with long-term partner Darren McKeown.

Speaking a week after his death, 25-year-old Darren said he marked the day by visiting the grave and attending Holy Cross Church, where Mark was the director of music.

The happy couple had been planning for their wedding after getting engaged on Valentine's Day this year.

But last Sunday, almost five months later, Mark was found dead by a devastated Darren.

His funeral took place last week at Holy Cross Church, while he was laid to rest at St Colman's cemetery in Kilkeel, a town where he spent most of his childhood.

The popular man's untimely death prompted floods of online tributes.

"I have spent the last week trying to get myself together and make sure everything is what he wanted it to be," Darren said.

"Mark was a troubled soul, he had a broken, damaged heart and everyone tried to help.

"He was everything to me; he cooked, he cleaned, I would work late and come home and my dinner would be there for me.

"Mark was always about everyone else and what everyone else wanted, he was such a kind and loving person.

"Anyone who met him saw that right away.

"I would be nothing without him."

The talented musician sang and played the organ, piano, guitar and harp in front of large crowds.

He was the leader of Holy Family folk group and led the parish children's choir every Sunday.

"Music was everything to him - it was his life," Darren added.

"Mark used his music to bring people from all different backgrounds together.

"He cared about getting everyone together and he did that through music.

"I went to Mass yesterday morning where he would usually perform but there was something missing, it felt empty without his voice and presence."

Music was key to the funeral service, with more than 100 singers accompanied by four guitars, the organ, piano, two flutes and a violin.

"The music was the centrepiece for the Mass itself," Darren explained.

"It's the only thing that brought me peace during the Mass and it brought a little bit of happiness.

"I couldn't have done anything without the support of Mark's family and my family and our close friends."

Describing the moment Darren popped the question earlier this year, he added: "We got engaged on Valentine's Day this year after Mark surprised me with a trip to Galgorm.

"At midnight he took me out to the swing and proposed there.

"We were together for almost five years and after getting together I knew I was in love after a month.

"I took him to Paris and we travelled across the world.

"One of his greatest moments was when he performed with Dana Rosemary Scallon, who won the Eurovision in 1970."

On Friday Ryan McCann from Stay Gold Tattoo held a fundraising day for Mark in aid of the PIPS charity, where £1,600 was raised for people with mental health issues. Mark is survived by his parents Mary and Sean, and brothers Daniel, Gerald and Ciaran.

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