Tributes paid to huntsman who dies after fall

Published: 8 Nov 2012 13:000 comments

THE youngest daughter of Lisbellaw man, William McClean, the 51-year-old who died following a hunting accident in Cavan over a week ago, paid a moving tribute to her father at his funeral yesterday (Wednesday) as she read a poem she had written for him.

The funeral cortege of William McClean leaves Lisnaskea Independent Methodist Church as members of Fermanagh Harriers and the Pony Club form a guard of honour.<<

Described as a "kind and generous gentleman" who was passionate about horses and vintage tractors, Mr McClean's funeral was held at Lisnaskea Independent Methodist Church.

The father of three had been rushed to Cavan Hospital on Saturday, October 27, after he came off his horse, Tamara during a hunt in Killeevan with the Fermanagh Harriers Hunt Club.

He was later taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

It is understood his eldest daughter, Rachel was marking her 21st birthday last Friday (November 2) when Mr McClean lost his fight for life.

As a mark of respect to the man who had been a member with the club for four seasons, Fermanagh Harriers formed a guard of honour outside the church yesterday.

Photographs in the church documenting the most important parts of his life including his family, friends, his horse and his vintage machinery were displayed as a visual tribute to Mr McClean.

According to Johnny Vance of the Harriers Club, the plumber by trade had only jumped his first fence when the tragic accident occurred.

"It is sad how a family can be changed forever in a matter of seconds," he said, "Willie was one of the kindest, most decent and generous people you would ever hope to meet.

"He was a lovely gentleman. He will be very sadly missed.

"Staff at both hospitals were so kind and thoughtful too, and did all they could for him."

Mr McClean discovered his passion for hunting later on in life, thanks to his three girls, Rachel, Rebecca and Ruth.

His wife Shirley fully supported his past-time.

"Shirley was super supportive of him in his riding," said Mr. Vance, "She is devastated. Willie has been taken from this world too soon and she will miss him terribly. But she accepts that it is God's will that he was taken."

Jonathan Gallagher, local worker for Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Ireland, provided a reading at yesterday's funeral.

The McClean family are deeply involved in the organisation's work locally.

"The family's faith has kept them going throughout all of this," he said, "And they know that one day they will be reunited with Willie. There will be long, lonely days ahead but at least they have that assurance.

"His youngest daughter Ruth had written a poem while her father was in hospital. She read it out at the funeral with the support of her two sisters at her side. It was so touching and God gave her the strength when she needed it most to be able to read it out."

Mr Gallagher said Mr McClean was well-known as an excellent plough man.

"He loved his tractors. His pride and joy was his New Holland. He was a vintage plough man, his plough belonged to his father.

"He couldn't drive a car because he had problems with his eyesight but he had the licence for the tractor so if Shirley couldn't leave him down to a hunt he would think nothing of putting the horsebox on to the tractor and driving down. He was known Ireland-wide as the man who would drive his tractor down to a hunt. Nothing would stand in his way."

He said the McClean family, including his brother Robert and sister Hazel had taken comfort from the number of messages of support and sympathy which had been sent from family and friends.

"Robert and Hazel could not believe the amount of texts and Facebook comments that had come in from people from all arts and parts offering their support and sympathy."

Mr McClean, is survived by his wife Shirley, daughters Rachel, Rebecca and Ruth, his sister, Hazel and brother, Robert and his mother, Mary. He is predeceased by his father, the late William McClean.

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