Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Tributes paid on the loss of a legend

Glowing tributes have been paid to our colleague, friend and former press photographer with The Examiner, Mickey O’Rourke, who passed away on Wednesday.

Although he has always been held in the highest regard at The Examiner, we have been humbled by the many tributes paid to him by those whose paths he crossed while working for the paper over the last three decades.

Mickey has been synonymous with The Examiner since its inception, and before that with its predecessor The Slieve Gullion View newsletter.  

Known the length and breadth of the district, his affable demeanour and witty personality endeared him to many.  He rarely missed an event.  From club and county matches, charity presentations, prize-givings and birthday parties, he was there, the ‘face of the paper’ throughout the area.

Among the dozens of online tributes paid to Mickey in the days following his demise, one recalled a visit by Stormont officials to an event.  When the host asked if the press had any questions, Mickey speedily retorted: “No, just line them up.  I’ve to be at a school in half an hour”.

This no-nonsense approach typified Mickey.  He had a job to do and he got on with it, and regardless of rank or file, he treated everyone the same.

Mickey was a devout supporter of Dromintee GFC and surviving players from the club’s 1966 Junior Championship winning team flanked their former teammate as his remains were removed to St. Patrick’s Church for Requiem Mass on Friday.

Club Chairman Aidan Rice recalled hearing of Mickey’s talent on the field: Mickey was a member of the 1966 Junior Championship winning team, I’m told he was a nippy forward and a good free taker.  As soon as his playing days finished, he went into management and together with Charlie Fearon and Tom Wall, he managed the team for many years. He went on to become Secretary and later held various other positions throughout the years.  He was still an active lotto seller.

“Mickey was a great character, the word legend has been used several times over the past few days and indeed that may be true. There wasn’t a function in the club or area that Mickey hadn’t attended and photographed in recent history.  He loved attending games, whether it at underage level through to seniors and county games – it didn’t matter he was always there, camera in hand. Mickey was always a great ambassador for our club, a gentleman and a true Gael. A great loss to the club and our parish, he will be sadly missed.”

Blighted by failing health in recent months, Mickey finally succumbed to his illness in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with his devoted family by his side.

Although a faithful servant of The Examiner, Mickey was first and foremost a family man.  A devoted husband to Bridie, and loving father of Rose, Kathryn, Malachy, Conor, Louise, Bernadette and Fiona.  His loss to them, us, and the wider south Armagh community, is immeasurable, and his passing epitomizes the phrase ‘our loss is heaven’s gain’.  

You’ve earned your rest, Mickey.  You will be forever missed.

Mickey O’Rourke: 

26 June 1947 – 27 November 2019

To a Colleague and Friend

 Mickey was Dromintee to the core

Alas, the camera will click no more.

Your legacy can be found 

in many houses all around 

in books, albums or frame

your pictures find fame.

Be it business, sporting or social

or just down in the local

Mickey was there, seldom vocal.

With camera in hand and a smile on his face

to capture the moment with dignity and grace.

A legend of your game, 

you never sought fame,

yet you became a household name

and won plenty of acclaim.

A cuppa in hand, off came the hat, 

time to sit and have a chat, 

your humour and wit came to the fore, 

once you had center floor,

with comrade Patsy looking for the door

 A Dromintee Senior championship eluded you

Croker 2002 was your best sporting view,

You were inside the wire, 

with your camera on fire,

taking pictures of the story

as your county grabbed glory.

A celebratory sea of Orange and White 

was your greatest football delight.

The office will always feel empty 

because you brought in plenty, 

of chit chat and news

and of course, airing your views.

Camera and football were just a working obsession,

your family were always your prize possession,

pictures of heaven will greatly enhance,

now with your presence.

From all at the Examiner