Community stunned at passing of promising young student

September 28, 2015

The sad passing of young Silverbridge man, Micéal Murphy, on Sunday last created a painful void not only within his close family circle, but in the wider south Armagh community where he was well known and respected.

Aged just 20, Micéal passed away in his home following a short illness.  The news stunned his close friends and clubmates from Dorsey Emmet’s GFC who had hosted a fundraising event in his honour just hours earlier.  The ‘Thumbs Up For Micéal’ arm wrestling event in Belleek attracted a huge turnout, everyone eager to show their support for the young man and his family.

Having been diagnosed with a brain tumour in May of this year, Micéal fought his illness with the same tenacity that he embraced every aspect of his short life.  Buoyed by his resolute faith, he remained upbeat and positive despite the gruelling treatment.  Indeed mourners at his funeral on Wednesday heard Parish Priest Fr. Kevin Cullen praise Micéal for his strong faith, adding that he undoubtedly would receive “his just reward” in heaven.

Despite his tender age, Micéal led by example and achieved much in his twenty short years.  A student at Queen’s University, Belfast, he excelled academically and had been named as the top achieving student on his second-year accountancy course just weeks before he became ill.

A past pupil of St. Joseph’s High School, Crossmaglen and St. Paul’s, Bessbrook, he was fondly remembered by both staff and fellow pupils as an affable, highly intelligent and hard-working student.

Principal of St. Paul’s, Mr Jarlath Burns, described his former student as an “outstanding and modest” young man: “He was a remarkably able lad, but not only that, he was so modest with it.  He came to us from [St. Joseph’s], Crossmaglen made into the man he was.  He was an outstanding student.”

A video posted on the school’s Facebook page paid tribute to the high esteem in which Micéal was held, as he spoke of his passion for maths and encouraged younger pupils to consider studying the subject at post-16 level.  In the video, he shared his aspiration to work towards an actuarial science degree at Queen’s.

Aside from his academic prowess, Micéal was also a gifted footballer and played from underage to senior level with his beloved Dorsey Emmet’s GFC.

His team-mates from the club’s senior squad, along with the senior ladies’ team, and pupils from St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s High Schools formed guards of honour at St. Patrick’s Church in Cullyhanna ahead of his requiem Mass on Wednesday.

The church was packed to capacity as mourners rallied to support his heart-broken parents, brothers, relatives and friends.  The poignant service marked a celebration of Micéal’s life and among the gifts brought to the altar were items that represented his love of farming, football and his family.

In a moving eulogy, Micéal’s godmother narrated his life’s path, which brought untold joy to his devoted family, and was so cruelly cut short.  Micéal’s infectious smile and endearing personality, she said, would remain with them forever.

Following requiem Mass, Micéal was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.  Left to mourn his passing are his parents Kevin and Fidelma, brothers Brian, Aidan and Eoghan, grandparents, aunts, uncles and wider family circle, to whom deepest sympathy is extended.