Belfast Telegraph

Funeral held for NZ earthquake man

An Irish father-of-two killed in the New Zealand earthquake has been remembered as a man of great compassion as he was laid to rest in his home soil.

Owen McKenna's final wish was to be buried where he was born and bred in Truagh, a quiet townland in the gentle, rolling hills of north Co Monaghan.

With the small Church of the Sacred Heart in Carrickroe packed out, speakers were erected outside to allow the overflow of mourners to hear the service.

Heartbreaking tributes to the psychiatric nurse, who was crushed to death in his car during last month's disaster in Christchurch, carried right across the countryside parish.

As a boy in Truagh, he was known to everybody whether as a member of the scouts, the local marching band, the Gaelic football club, the drama society or the Irish dancing school.

While he had worked in London and Saudi Arabia for many years before moving to New Zealand, he returned home regularly and came back to marry his wife Sarah in the same church 10 years ago.

A distraught Sarah and their two young children, Grace, six, and Tadhg, five, could not face the long journey back for the funeral, but watched on as it was broadcast live to absent family and friends on the internet.

Their home in Christchurch was known as an open house for Irish ex-patriates.

Drawings of teddy bears by his daughter and son replaced the flag of his local Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club Truagh Gaels over the coffin as it was lowered into the ground in the church graveyard.

His four sisters and three brothers Bernadette, Maria, Kieran, Enda, Angela, Brendan and Catherine were among the pall-bearers.

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