Tyrone GAA stalwart Seamus Horisk dies on what would have been son's birthday
Seamus Horisk - one of the longest-serving and most popular personalities in Tyrone GAA - has died suddenly on what would have been the birthday of his young son, who was killed in 1999.
The Errigal Ciaran club dynamo, who was well-known in the licensing trade throughout Ulster, passed away while at his holiday home in Downings in Co Donegal at the weekend.
There was added poignancy in that his passing occurred on what would have been his son Darragh's birthday.
Darragh, then a member of the Errigal Ciaran U14 squad, was killed in an accident on the main Ballygawley to Omagh road in 1999.
Mr Horisk had given a lifetime of service to the GAA having held various administrative posts at club level.
The club announced Mr Horisk's death through its Facebook page, sparking an outpouring of grief and sympathy from followers.
"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we report the sudden death of club stalwart, former chairman and current trustee Seamus Horisk.
"It is the club's intention that all club activities will be suspended until further notice."
Friends paid heartfelt tribute to the 66-year-old Ballygawley native, who was a member of the team that won the 1974 Tyrone All-County League Division Two.
"There will never be another like you Seamus, a truly wonderful human being," David Mullin posted on the Errigal Ciaran page.
Aodhán Harkin described him as "a true gentleman and a proud Gael", while Ryan Canavan said he was very shocked and sorry to hear of Mr Horisk's death.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Mary and Gemma. RIP Seamus," Mr Canavan wrote.
At the time of his death Mr Horisk had been immersed in preparations for a special banquet next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the team's 1993 Tyrone and Ulster Club championships.
He served three terms as chairman of Errigal Ciaran, the home team of Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
He was regarded as a driving force within the club, as well as being a passionate supporter of the county.
In more recent times he had taken particular delight in the exploits of the club's minor team, who were scheduled to meet Killeeshil in the Tyrone minor final on Wednesday night.
When Gaelic football's most important trophy, the Sam Maguire Cup, was brought to Ballygawley by first time winners Tyrone in September 2003, he was a central figure in organising the celebrations that marked the occasion.
Just months ago he linked up with Errigal Ciaran and Tyrone legend Peter Canavan to present a 'Mr and Mrs' special that was to become the talk of the county.
It was in his role as regional sales manager with Bass Ireland that he became a familiar figure in the hospitality industry, his engaging warmth and easy good humour winning him many friends.
It was in this connection that he was to play a key role in nurturing the growth and status of the Ulster GAA Writers' Association.
If flourished for many years under the Bass Ireland banner, with Mr Horisk lending his own inimitable stamp to its growth.
His sporting interests, though, were not solely confined to GAA affairs - he was always prepared to see a bigger picture, enjoying other sports and respecting different traditions.
His indefatigable efforts on behalf of his local area, club and county won him a host of friends throughout all sections of the community.
Mr Horisk was pre-deceased by his brother Brendan earlier this year.
His remains will be taken to his home today and the funeral will take place following Requiem Mass in St Matthew's Church, Garvaghey on Wednesday at noon. Errigal Ciaran said that the Horisk family have requested a few hours privacy before the wake commences.
The family have also requested that the Horisk home remains private on Wednesday morning before the funeral.
"We would ask everyone to respect the family wishes," the club said last night,
Mr Horisk is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Gemma, son-in-law David, granddaughter Niamh, brother Frank, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces and family circle, to whom deepest sympathy is extended.