Oswald Bradley who drowned while swimming to tricolours is laid to rest
A pensioner who died in a drowning accident while trying to remove two tricolours was a generous and kind-hearted man, a minister has said.
Several hundred mourners lined the main street of Bessbrook yesterday to pay their final respects to Oswald Bradley.
The 68-year-old died as he swam carrying a Union flag to an island in Bessbrook Pond on Monday evening. He intended to remove the two flags, which had appeared there in recent days.
A service was held at his home, in keeping with family tradition, with the mourners spilling on to the street outside. Many more lined the main street that cuts through the Co Armagh village.
In his sermon, Rev Brian Colvin paid tribute to a family man who went out of his way to help others.
Rev Colvin said he had been devoted to his late wife Violet, who died 11 years ago, his daughters Diane and Andrea and grandchildren Rebecca, Caitlyn, Adam and Kelsey.
"One of his pleasures was to take Caitlyn and Kelsey to school each day, to Windsor Hill Primary School, and if he could he would have dropped them off right at the front door," he said.
"Ossie will be remembered as a family man and so his death is a deep loss to his family."
A painter and decorator by trade, Rev Colvin said Mr Bradley was well-known throughout the community.
He recalled how, in his youth, Mr Bradley was the first head boy of Newry High School, and later a founding member of Bessbrook lawn bowling club. Together with his late wife, he ran a chip shop in the village.
"The death of one who was so loved and respected by many is a great loss, not just to his family but to this wider community of Bessbrook," added Rev Colvin.
The mourners included UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, who is from Bessbrook and had known Mr Bradley all his life.
Alan Black, the sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre, in which Mr Bradley lost a relative, was also in attendance, as was victims' campaigner Willie Frazer.
Mr Frazer said it was one of the largest funerals Bessbrook had seen. "It was a very large funeral, and there was a good number of Roman Catholics among the mourners too," he said. "I think it shows the respect he was held in by both communities."