Belfast Telegraph

Pillars of their small community, and companions to the very end

By Lindsay Fergus

Every evening Francie O'Reilly closed over the cast iron gates of Bonny's Caravan Park as a safeguard for the handful of people - several elderly - who lived there all-year round.

Last night, for the first time in years, they remained open and in their place was an ominous police security cordon.

Just beyond the blue and white plastic tape, on the left-hand side lies the cream mobile home that had housed Mr O'Reilly and his beloved wife Nan for years.

Although an older model than some of the other caravans in the vicinity, it was their pride and joy.

Neighbour Martina Milligan recalled how Mr O'Reilly, a keen gardener, kept the outside immaculate. He was frequently seen cutting his lawn - and that of his neighbours - and had geraniums and other flowers adorning the well-maintained site.

Another local told how they loved the caravan, nestled at the foot of the Mourne Mountains.

However, last night, instead of the familiar sight of their caravan lights on as darkness fell, the living room and kitchen areas were illuminated with the eerie white flash of a forensic science officer's camera.

Then at around 7.35pm the couple made their final journey from Bonny's as their bodies were removed from the living quarters of their caravan and placed in a mortuary van.

Watching on, devastated neighbours clung tightly to each other and wiped tears from their eyes.

Just the previous day, Mr O'Reilly had waved at one of his neighbours as they passed each other on the Tullybrannigan Road in Newcastle - little did he imagine that it would be the last time they would see each other.

Just a little more than 24 hours later, the lifeless bodies of the O'Reillys were discovered.

A couple who neighbours said were always together will now be buried side-by-side.

Belfast Telegraph

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