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Tragedy in Oz: Community numb with shock at young man’s death

January 25, 2016

The death of a young Silverbridge man in a tragic accident in Australia has shocked and saddened the entire community in the village and the wider south Armagh area.

Niall Quinn (27) died on Saturday after falling from a houseboat moored on the Murray River, near the border between New South Wales and Victoria.  He was socializing with friends when he slipped and fell from the top deck of the vessel and is believed to have hit his head before entering the water.  Despite frantic efforts from his friends who plunged into the water in a bid to save him, his body was recovered by police divers some hours later.

The tragedy has numbed the local community where Niall and his family are very well-known and respected.  Indeed, tragedy has visited the family before when his mother Deirdre’s brother, Michael, was killed in a loyalist gun and bomb attack on the family business – Donnelly’s Bar – in December 1975.

The Donnelly family has had a life-long association with Silverbridge GFC where Niall was a former player before he left for Australia.

Club Secretary, Jarlath Burns, said the community is numb with shock at the tragedy and he described Niall as a great lad who lived life to the full.

“Niall played for the club at all levels and was a stylish, pacy half forward with an innate scoring ability.  He was a young man with a big heart, a hard worker and someone who lived life to the full.

“The family circle is highly respected and loved so much by the people of Silverbridge.  The sincerest condolences of all club players, members and the wider south Armagh community goes out to his family and friends,” he added.

The GAA community throughout south Armagh and beyond has expressed condolences with Silverbridge GFC and the bereaved family, with many clubs posting messages of sympathy and support on social media.

Local Sinn Féin councillor, Barra Ó Muirí, said the community in Silverbridge is “numb with shock”.

“Niall was highly thought of in the area and I think I can speak on behalf of the entire community when I say our hearts go out to the Quinn and Donnelly families.  The local community is devastated at the news of this tragic accident.  People are numb with shock,” he said.

“There are no adequate words when a tragedy like this strikes, we can only hope that Niall is returned to his family as soon as possible and that they know the entire community is behind them.”

His party colleague, Councillor Terry Hearty said the family is still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

“They just cannot get their head round it, they cannot believe it.  Niall was such a likeable, lively lad, always smiling, always going somewhere and everyone knew him,” he said.

It is understood a post mortem examination is to be carried out in Australia and last night (Sunday), Niall’s brother Gary and uncle began the long journey to accompany his remains home, with assistance from the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

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