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Belfast man discovered on Northern Ireland beach died of coronary on anniversary of wife's death


Scene: Murlough beach

Scene: Murlough beach

Scene: Murlough beach

A man whose body was discovered on a beach miles from home died while out walking on the anniversary of his wife's death, his son has said.

Sean Donnelly was found on Murlough beach near Newcastle, Co Down, last Friday.

The 69-year-old, from Estoril Park in Ardoyne, is thought to have had a heart attack.

His son John said the family believe that Mr Donnelly had gone to Murlough Bay to remember his much-missed wife and "soulmate" Marion, who passed away two years ago on March 29.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, John said everyone was trying to come to terms with the loss of the former bus driver, whose funeral took place three days ago.

"We're struggling at the minute," he said.

Mr Donnelly's other son Paul added: "We're all just taking one day at a time."

Family and friends said a final farewell to the grandfather and great-grandfather at Requiem Mass, which was held in Holy Cross Church on Wednesday, followed by interment at Roselawn Cemetery. He is survived by John and Paul, daughters Sharon and Denise and the wider family circle.

Several years ago Mr and Mrs Donnelly purchased a caravan in a park in Newcastle, which is where they used to holiday.

John said his family had been "very upset" by rumours circulating after his father's death suggesting he took his own life.

He also said that the coroner's report suggested Mr Donnelly had a severe heart disease, which he was unaware of.

"Dad was always concerned about looking after the caravan and making it available to the family," John told the North Belfast News.

"He wouldn't have taken his own life. It wouldn't have been in his nature."

John also revealed that the father-of-four lost his sparkle when his wife died in 2015.

"She was what he lived for and after that he just sort of drifted," he said.

"It's not that he lost the will to live, it's not like he didn't care, he just pottered along. He wasn't the same."

He added: "My dad was a great fella. He loved his walks, and unfortunately this was his last walk in Murlough Bay. He died on the Friday and it was my mum's wedding anniversary on the Wednesday so this is why we think he took the Murlough coastal route, because that's where him and my mum loved to walk."

Mr Donnelly's passing last weekend was one of three tragedies in north Belfast, with the murder of Paul McCready (31) from the Torrens area in a violent incident in the city centre and the death of 21-year-old Ardoyne woman Nicole Breslin.

Belfast Telegraph