Highly respected former Lurgan fire fighter was a ‘tireless charity worker’

Eugene McNally
Eugene McNally

The funeral of former Lurgan fire fighter, who died in an accident near Newry, is to be held in Laurencetown tomorrow.

Eugene McNally, who retired from the NI Fire and Rescue Service recently after 32 years, died in a collision on the A1 near Newry at around 5.30pm on Monday.

On Wednesday night the NIFRS and representatives from the PSNI held a poignant tribute to Mr McNally as his cortege arrived at Newry Fire Station where he had been Watch Commander for many years.

He is mourned by his wife Christine and children Linzi (Magee), Laura (Spiers) and Paul, brothers Stephen, Adrian, Kieran and Michael, sisters Maria and Aileen, grandchildren and family circle.

Mr McNally, who was well known in the Lurgan area, recently returned to take part in a charity event.

He took part in Lap of the Lough to raise funds for another Lurgan firefighter, Larry Ward, who had died earlier this year.

Mr McNally and his colleagues were raising funds for Mr Ward’s children in the run up to Christmas.

He had worked tirelessly to raise funds for the Southern Area Hospice in Newry and for the Children of Chernobyl.

Mr McNally’s funeral is expected to take place at 12pm on Saturday at St Colman’s Church, Laurencetown, with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

NIFRS Southern Area Commander John Denvir said: “Our thoughts are with Eugene’s family at this very sad time.

“We were all deeply saddened about his death. Eugene was a well-respected colleague who was greatly admired for his dedication to the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. Eugene was well known within the local area, so his death will be greatly felt across the community. It’s a very sad day for our station and the organisation.

“We will always remember him for his work within the local community and his commitment to helping others.

“Eugene was also a very keen cyclist, who helped to raise money for many local charities in the area.

“Eugene was heavily involved in the recent cycling event which was held at Lurgan Fire Station in memory of a former colleague.

“His kind-hearted manner made him an extremely popular firefighter at Newry Fire Station.”

The sadness resulting from Mr McNally’s untimely death is being felt throughout the organisation.

“Firefighters across Northern Ireland work very closely together - we’re like family - so news like this impacts everyone,” Mr Denvir added.

“Eugene was a husband, father and esteemed colleague.

“He will be greatly missed.”

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Fire Brigades Union offered its condolences to Mr McNally’s family and friends.

“Eugene had been a former Fire Brigades Union representative and was highly thought of by all his colleagues,” he added.

Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley said that the community has been “stunned and deeply saddened by Eugene’s death”.

“Eugene was a man who served this community faithfully over many years as a member of the Fire and Rescue Service,” Mr Bradley said.

“On many occasions he put his own life on the line to save the lives of others and that only serves to underline the tragedy of his death in a road accident.

“He has been involved in many charitable and community events and gave of his time selflessly, in order that others be remembered and respected.”

He added: “On behalf of the community here in Newry, I want to express my deep sorrow to his immediate family and wide circle of friends.”

The Chairman and Directors of the Road Safety Council of Northern Ireland were deeply saddened to learn this morning of the tragic death of Ex Watch Commander (NIFRS) Eugene McNally. Eugene’s death was the result of a road traffic collision on the A1 on Tuesday 1st December. Our thoughts and Prayers are with all his family and friends at this time and with his colleagues at Newry Fire Station and to the entire Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the crash which happened at around 5.30pm on Monday. Two other men in their 30s were taken to hospital, but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

PSNI Inspector Stephen Humphries said: “A silver Mazda 3 and blue Volkswagen Caddy were involved in the collision.

“I would ask anyone who witnessed those vehicles in the area before the road traffic collision to contact Ardmore police station or the collision investigation unit at Sprucefield on non-emergency number 101.”