Belfast Telegraph

Sean Byrne's daughter in poignant, poetic tribute to 'my daddy, my superhero'

By Claire McNeilly

The grieving widow of Sean Byrne placed her hand gently on his coffin during Requiem Mass yesterday as it sat in front of her pew.

Bernie Byrne, who bore her sorrow with great dignity, sobbed quietly as one of the final hymns of the hour-long service, The Arms Of The Angels, resonated around the small chapel in Camlough.

Shortly afterwards there wasn't a sound in the church bar the voice of the deceased's daughter Blinne, heavy with emotion and fighting back tears, as she read out a poem dedicated to her dad, describing him as her superhero.

Keen amateur photographer Mr Byrne (64), a father-of-three and grandfather-of-six, died on Sunday while taking pictures with a friend on Wee Binnian in the Mourne Mountains.

Hundreds packed into the quaint Church of St Malachy, Carrickcruppen, to hear Father Sean Larkin speak of the "deep sorrow and shock" of Mr Byrne's "untimely" death.

Describing him as "a loving husband and father and grandfather, a helpful son and brother, a good friend and neighbour", the priest said "the circumstances of Sean's death in the Mournes make his passing all the more tragic".

He said: "What should have been an enjoyable walk in the mountains in unusually mild conditions ended in tragedy.

"This was indeed a dark day, in a place of great natural beauty."

Fr Larkin gave a special mention to the former senior policeman who, too, lost his life in the mountains on Sunday. "It's fitting that we also keep in mind and in our thoughts and prayers the family of Robbie Robinson, who also died in a separate fall in the Mournes an hour later," he said.

The priest said that Mr Byrne was "first and foremost a family man" who "lived for his family and was always there when anyone needed him".

Mourners were told that "he had an oil business and was well-known and respected in the wider community".

They heard that he had varied interests ranging from photography, volunteering in securing the safety of the homes of the elderly, the Lislea Men's Shed, his Wednesday night quiz group and that he was heavily involved with Craobh Rua hurling club for many years.

The priest spoke of Mr Byrne's "unique and special bond" with his sons and daughter - Padraig, Shane and Blinne - and his grandchildren Christopher, Eireann, Sean og, Liam, Oisin and Eilbhe.

"This extended to all his nieces and nephews," Fr Larkin said.

"He knew the personality of all the children and they loved this very special bond of father, grandfather, uncle or friend.

"He loved all things Irish; Irish culture, the Irish language, Irish games. He was a happy person, enjoyed life, found fulfilment in life."

Music was provided by a young man and woman, both singing and playing guitars, as well as the flute.

One of the Prayers of the Faithful was dedicated to the family of the late Mr Robinson, whose funeral also took place yesterday in Banbridge at 1.30pm, that "they may find the strength to face the future".

Another prayer was said for the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team and all emergency services "for all their efforts every day as they work tirelessly assisting those in the Mourne Mountains and further afield".

At 11am, as the Mass began, there was a procession bringing four symbols representative of Mr Byrne's life to the priest standing at the altar.

They were a camera, representing his "great interest in photography", a hurling stick, a walking pole "for the mountains" and a family photograph.

Fr Martin McKenna was co-celebrant at yesterday's service.

Blinne's poem to her father just before the service ended received rapturous applause.

"There's never a right time to say goodbye, we'll miss you daddy and here is why.

"You taught us so much, to show no fear, to always have fun, face the day with cheer..."

Through tears, she added: "I hope you can hear us, so we can let you know, that you are and will forever be our superhero."

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty was among hundreds of mourners who gathered to say a final farewell to Mr Byrne, who was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

Belfast Telegraph

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