Joey Murrin, Killybegs
The eulogy at the funeral Mass of Joey Murrin was given by the Northern Editor for RTÉ, Tommie Gorman on Tuesday.
Mr. Murrin, the former chairman of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation, and a major figure in the fishing industry for many years, died last weekend.
Sligo-native. Tommie Gorman, became close friends with Joey Murrin when he became north western correspondent with RTÉ in 1980.
Speaking at St. Mary of the Visitation Church at Tuesday's funeral, Tommie thanked both Joey and his wife Betty for asking him to have ‘this very role in the celebration’ of Joe’s life.
He said: “My way of responding to your faith is to talk about the person I knew, admired and loved.”
The fishing industry leader, Joey Murrin, had already become a well known figure in the media when Tommie Gorman was appointed as Northern Correspondent.
Tommie recalled the qualities that made Joey the memorable man he was: “He also had that vital quality that demands and commands attention.
“Joey believed what he said. He could always produce a phrase that hit the nail on the head.”
The two struck up a firm-friendship and Joey became Tommie’s tutor and undertook to show him the ropes.
Tommie was shown the way of the sea, he was introduced to half-deckers, small vessels and bigger boats by Joey.
He was encouraged to get onto the boats, to feel the swell, to get seasick, to watch the fishermen hauling heavy nets over the side of the boat, to sleep in a bunk and to rise with the sun and to brave the elements.
“Joey brought me to the net factories, the landing piers, the fish factories. He showed me how courage is the quality that’s at the heart of of our fishing sector. He really loved Killybegs. He cared about the fishing community and the fishing industry,” he told those who had gathered from all corners of the country to attend the funeral which was broadcast live from the Killbegs' Church.
The gathered congregation heard how Joey was aware of the precarious life that fishermen lead and how when tragedy struck Joey shared the pain of the fishing family.
Nine years later, their friendship moved into a new phase and Tommie and Joe both began to meet in Brussels where Tommie had began to work.
“The Christmas season in Brussels officially began with the arrival of the Irish delegation for the annual quotas-haggle.
“During those adventures, I discovered just how political Joey was and that is political in the widest sense of the word,” he said.
See also: Death announced of Joey Murrin
Tommie watched how Joey quickly made friends in the Belgian capital: “Joey got on with everyone, whoever was in power Joey did what was necessary to befriend them, to bend their ear and to influence them.
“Throughout his life he maintained solid friendships in both Dublin and Brussels.”
Tommie recalled how their friendship continued when he returned from Belfast in 2001.
Their friendship stood the test of time and over the past 17 years their bond became stronger and naturally progressed into other areas of their lives.
“He had very simple principles, Betty was the love of his life. He was determined to provide for her and the children they brought into the world.
“He wanted to give their children the best chance to find their way in life and to make a contribution to wider society,” he said.
Those gathered heard that Joey was at his happiest walking down the town and having the craic among his own.
Tommie said that Joey showed the character and charisma of a good leader.
“One of the most telling tests of a leader is what sort of a set-up he leaves in place for those who follow him or her and Joey wanted Seán O’Donoghue to be even more successful than he was in the KFO Chief Executive role.”
The final two conversations that Joey had with Tommie will stay with the Sligo-native forever: “The first was after Christmas, over the road, by the fire, in the house in Killybegs, Joey, Betty and me.
“The second was in Sligo General a few weeks ago - those chats were about mortality.
“Joey was sounding me about about my own cancer, my attitude to chemotherapy and my views about death. He was so lucid, so straight, so profound.”
Tommie recognised that his friend was looking beyond the sea and to the horizon and preparing to board the ship that would bring him on his final voyage.
“The fisherman was taking stock of the weather forecast, noting the swell, weighing up the odds of heading out of harbour and casting his nets,” he said.
During his journey in this life, memories from the past ignited a passion in Joey to improve the lives of those around him.
Joey told Tommie of bringing his father to the grave of his late uncle who had died in World War one. Joey said he could still recall the smell of the flowers during that conversation. Joey also harboured memories of young boys, barefoot, walking from Killybegs to the recruitment office, never to return home.
These stories and memories encouraged Joey to look to the ocean around him and to harvest the richness of the sea to better the lives of those who lived in the surrounding community of his beloved Killybegs.
On the last occasion that Tommie met Joey, he saw resilience, fearlessness and defiance: “My last sight of him was him was sitting on the hospital bed in Sligo in shorts, defiant with the resilience and the shape of a jockey.
“He had health and he had steel right up to his final days. Sometimes good people are given the swift crossing they deserve in this life and in his death Joey Murrin was utterly fearless.
“He made the world a better place. He made a difference. He loved his wife, his family and Killybegs. It was my good fortune to know him and love him.”