Tributes paid to Camlough man who died in Mournes fall

January 21, 2019

The Camlough man who died after falling from a crag while walking in the Mourne Mountains last weekend has been described as a “popular and highly-respected family man” whose contribution to his local GAA club was immeasurable.

Sean Byrne was hiking with two friends on Wee Binnian mountain on Sunday morning (13th January) when he suddenly lost his footing and fell more than 100ft.  

The Mourne Mountain Rescue team responded to the emergency around noon but was unable to save the married father-of-three who was pronounced dead at the scene.  The operation was hampered by the weather and coastguard rescue helicopter 116 flew from Dublin to the scene but due to conditions was unable to assist.

A former Treasurer and Trustee of Craobh Rua Camlocha Hurling Club, a club spokesperson paid tribute to Sean’s immense contribution: “The news of our respected former Treasurer and esteemed Trustee’s death has devastated us all.  He had a great love for our Club and he showed this over the years by the giving freely of his time and experience to help us develop and become rooted within our community.  He possessed great gifts of commitment, integrity, calmness and care. He loved his family, his community, Gaelic sport and culture.

“No words we can say will lessen the shock and pain of his family as they struggle to come to terms with this news. However we will be there for them just as Seán had been here for us over the past thirty years.”

Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy said the tragedy “has utterly devastated the local Camlough community”.

He said: “Seán was a popular and highly respected family man, a friend to many of us.  He had a great love for Craobh Rua Hurling Club and the local community.  Seán was rest assured to be seen at any fund raising quiz or event that took place here in the village.  He was a keen photographer and would be present at hurling, cycling, running and swimming events snapping away.

“The Byrne family had a long coal and oil business tradition and would be known to many throughout south Armagh.  We can assure them that they are in our thoughts and prayers at this dark and devastating time. We as a community will give them what support we can.”

Mr Byrne was one of two fatalities in the Mournes that occurred within an hour of each other, the second victim named as Robbie Robinson from Banbridge.  Mr Robinson, a retired RUC Chief Inspector, fell to his death while walking on Slieve Commedagh. 

A third incident in which a walker sustained a broken ankle was also dealt with by the Mourne Rescue Team who said to have two fatalities in the course of one day was “an anomalous situation” and extended sympathy to the bereaved families.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty offered his condolences to the two men’s families.

Extending his sympathy to the bereaved family of Sean Byrne, he said: “Mr Byrne was a widely known and well respected member of our local community. He was deeply involved in sport, and was a Trustee and former Treasurer of the Craobh Rua Camlocha Hurling Club.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very difficult time. This is a very close community and I know everyone will rally around the family in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

He added: “Unfortunately Seán wasn’t the only one to lose his life in the Mournes on Sunday. Banbridge man Robbie Robinson also tragically lost his life. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time for his family also,” and he offered his appreciation to the Mourne Mountain Rescue Services and Air Support for their efforts in the rescue and recovery operation.