Community mourns sudden passing of charity crusader

April 13, 2010

By Btónagh Murphy

The community of Dorsey and the wider south Armagh area has been plunged into mourning at the sudden and untimely passing of one of the area’s most popular and esteemed citizens.

Michael Crilly passed away suddenly at his home in Ummerinvore on Wednesday morning.  Aged just 58, his death has left a huge void in the lives of those closest to him.

Michael was known and loved by many.  His generosity and thoughtfulness extended far beyond his family and friends and he was particularly respected for his charity work.

He began his working life with Boyce Meal Firm in Banbridge, before joining the Civil Service in the Department of Agriculture, where he remained until the time of his death.  Through his job, his expertise was often called upon and, after his day’s work, he spent many hours willingly offering his assistance to hundreds of farming families throughout the area and beyond who sought his advice.

A member of Dorsey Emmetts GFC, Michael was committed to the betterment of his club.  He was an active member of the club’s Executive Committee and an integral part of raising funds for the club.  In previous years, he was also deeply involved in St. Patrick’s GFC, Cullyhanna where he held the position of Club Secretary.

Michael’s generosity and consideration touched many and he was always on hand to offer a comforting word or deed to those most in need.  If neighbours or friends suffered poor health or were in hospital, they could always be assured that he would be one of their first visitors.

His kind and jovial disposition was admired by all and, when in the company of friends, he was known to belt out a few bars of a song and play a few tunes on his melodian.

Michael also devoted a lot of his time to parish work and was just recently elected as Chairman of the newly-formed Parish Committee Association, which was set up as part of the future division of parishes in the diocese.

But in recent years, he was best known for his tireless charity work for Newry Hospice.  He organised fundraising events and promoted the work of the Hospice at every opportunity.  As one of the charity’s representatives in south Armagh, he attended functions and accepted donations on behalf of the Hospice.  A huge part of his personal fundraising efforts was his participation in organised Hospice Treks.  Last year he took part in a gruelling trek in Vietnam, while in 2007 he travelled to Mexico to participate in the Hospice trek there.  This was all on top of the relentless fundraising he undertook at home, which benefitted the charity by many thousands of pounds.

Majella Gallogly, Fundraising Manager for Southern Area Hospice, paid tribute to Michael and extended sympathy to his family on behalf of the charity.

“It is with great regret that the Southern Area Hospice learned of the death of Mr Michael Crilly.  Michael was a volunteer representing the Southern Area Hospice at various cheque presentations.  He also participated in several fundraising treks and events and was a true friend of the Southern Area Hospice.  We extend our sympathy to the Crilly family at this sad time,” she said.

His charitable work was not solely confined to the Hospice, however, and in 2008 he participated in the Niall Mellon Township Challenge, travelling to South Africa to help construct homes for impoverished families.

The loss of Michael will be sorely felt by the many people whose lives he touched and the huge attendance at his wake and funeral was testament to that high esteem in which he was held.

Michael was laid to rest in Cullyhanna cemetery on Friday, following Requiem Mass in St. Oliver’s Church, Dorsey.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, sons Declan and Cathal, daughter Michelle, daughters-in-law Martina and Louise, grandchildren Kealan, Cara, Michael and Niall, brothers Larry, Peter and Paddy, sisters Ann Morgan and Eileen Mackin and wider family circle.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh an anam uasal.