Belfast Telegraph

Family bids tearful farewell to farmer killed in attack by bull

By Allan Preston

A farmer who died after being attacked by a bull has been remembered at his funeral service as "an unassuming and hard-working family man".

Alex McKinley (75), from Gillygooley on the outskirts of Omagh, died on Tuesday on the farm he was given as a wedding present in 1966.

His family have spoken of the desperate attempts to save his life, describing his death as like "a terrible dream".

Yesterday mourners packed Gillygooley Presbyterian Church. Four of his nine grandchildren - Stephanie, Emma, Kyra and Craig - gave readings during the service.

Rev Robert Herron described him as a proud grandfather who was happiest tending to his cattle.

In 1964, aged 23, Mr McKinley met his future wife and "soulmate" Margaret at a dance in Blacksessagh Hall, marrying two years later.

The happy couple began life on the farm at Botera left to Mr McKinley by his father.

To help pay to develop the property he took a temporary job driving a bin lorry for the local council - it lasted for 40 years.

Mr and Mrs McKinley had four children between 1967 and 1972 and the family worked hard to expand the farm.

Mr McKinley developed an interest in pedigree Limousin cattle, winning several first prizes for his stock at local agricultural shows.

"I am told it was not unusual to see Alex walk up and down Botera Road with his cattle as he broke them in for the show - bulls on leads and dogs at his feet," the congregation heard.

Rev Herron said he was "haunted" by a conversation over a cup of tea with Mr McKinley several months ago, when he spoke of the dangers faced by those working with livestock.

Three years ago Mr McKinley's health started to deteriorate, requiring him to travel regularly to Belfast for treatment.

"With the support of Margaret, the family and friends, he was persuaded to undergo treatment. He never looked back," Rev Herron added.

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