Tributes paid to Peer’s much-loved “right-hand man”

March 17, 2014

Tributes have been paid to the Mayobridge man who was tragically killed alongside Edward Haughey in Thursday’s helicopter crash.  42 year old Declan Small, who was fondly described as Mr Haughey’s “right-hand man”, worked as a site foreman for Norbrook and was remembered as a “gentleman” who loved his work.

Working mainly overseas for the pharmaceutical firm, he regularly returned home at weekends to spend time with friends and family.  It is believed he may have been returning home early last week for a concert in Dublin.

Extremely close to his mother and siblings, Mr Small was almost finished building a house next to the family home but had not yet moved in.

His grief stricken family described him as a “reliable and loyal son, brother and friend.”

In a statement, his family said,

“Renowned for his quick-witted humour, Declan was much loved by friends, work colleagues and all who knew him.

“A long-standing employee of Norbrook, Declan was a craftsman and joiner who took great joy and pride in his work.”

The family added that Mr Small had helped care for his father, mother and brothers from very young age and said they were “devastated at the untimely and tragic circumstances of Declan’s passing.”

Declan was an active supporter of Mayobridge GAA club, having played for the team until he was 16. Club Chairman Thomas Coulter described him as a “happy person” who was always “game for a laugh.”

“He was an all-round sportsman who just loved sport.  He will be sadly missed. Nobody can believe it.” said Mr Coulter.

The sports-mad joiner also played for a local darts team and was a member of Mayobridge Golf Club.  A Newry Darts League game was postponed last Friday night as as a mark of respect.

Mayobridge Golf Club also paid tribute to Mr Small on its Facebook page,

“It is with deep regret that Mayobridge Golf Club has learned of the untimely passing of their member Declan Small who was tragically killed last night.” the statement read,

“The condolences of the club members are with Declan’s family and friends at this difficult time. RIP.”

Former Mayobridge SDLP Councillor, Josephine O’Hare, said the community there was “dumbfounded and absolutely numbed”  at the news of Mr Small’s death.

“He was a pleasant boy that grew up into a very lovely man,” she said, adding that he had been involved in all sorts of clubs when he was younger and was “very popular”.

“He was such a nice fellow and from a popular family, it’s just such a sad loss.”

Mrs O’Hare said his family are “devastated, just devastated, you couldn’t even describe how sad they are… his mother’s heart is breaking.”

Mr Small, whose father died a number of years ago, is survived by his mother Margaret, partner Bernie McDonnell, brothers Michael, Shane and Anrai, and his sister-in-law Suzanne.