The large turnout of people at the funeral of farm tragedy victim Breige McKeffrey was testimony to her wider role in the Garvagh community, mourners have heard.
Hundreds of people packed St Mary’s Church, Craigavole, on Sunday, to pay respects to the mother-of-six, who died while tending cattle on her family farm off Carhill Road in Garvagh.
In his funeral mass address, Father Brendan McKeefry - Mrs Keefry’s brother-in-law - talked about her commitment to the area, her dedication as a mother, her hard work on the farm and her role as a cook in local schools.
Among those in attendance was former SDLP MLA John Dallat, who said: “The huge attendance at the funeral of Breige is testimony to the high esteem she and her family are held in the whole community. The genuine shock felt by people far and wide that such a good person should die in such tragic circumstances was manifestly felt by all who packed into the church or stood in silence in the grounds outside.”
Mrs McKeefry, who was in her 70s, was laid to rest in the cemetery adjoining the church.
The close-knit rural area was shocked when news filtered through last Wednesday of the incident, which is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI). Tributes came from across the community for the beloved wife of Mickey and devoted mother of Michele, Fiona, Brendan, Olive, Michael and Johnny.
DUP East Londonderry MLA Adrian McQuillan said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this deeply distressing time. This incident serves as a reminder that there are many dangers that surround us on our farms. It is important that those working on farms take caution and follow all safety procedures.”
SDLP Councillor Roisin Loftus, who visited the McKeefry home on Saturday, said the family had been left “heartbroken” by the tragedy. She said: “To lose a friend and well known member of the community in these circumstances is an absolute tragedy. The victim was a hard working farmer all her life. It just demonstrates again the dangers that farm workers face, particularly at this time of year.”
Sinn Fein MLA for the area Caoimhe Archibald said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the woman’s family and friends in the wake of her tragic death.”
In a statement, HSENI said it is investigating the incident.
A spokesperson for the HSENI said: “Our deepest sympathy is with the bereaved family at this sad time.
“Given the recent tragic deaths on Northern Ireland farms, HSENI is strongly appealing to the farming community to always prioritise safety and think SAFE before starting any job on the farm.”