THE son of an Ardoyne man found dead on a County Down beach has revealed his father passed away taking a walk to commemorate the second anniversary of his beloved wife’s death.
Sean Donnelly, 69, from Estoril Park, was found on Murlough beach near Newcastle. It’s believed he suffered a heart attack. His death was the first of three tragedies at the weekend with Torrens man Paul McCready (31) passing away after a violent incident in Belfast city centre and 21-year-old Nicole Breslin from Ardoyne passing away.
Sean’s son John told the North Belfast News the family believe his dad went to Murlough Bay to remember his beloved wife Marian who passed away two years ago.
“My mum passed away in 2015 and really from then he had lost his soulmate,” said John. “She was what he lived for and after that he just sort of drifted. It’s not that he lost the will to live, it’s not like he didn’t care, he just pottered along. He wasn’t the same.”
The former bus driver and great-grandfather will be sorely missed, said John.
“My dad was a great fella. He was very outgoing and loved his walks and unfortunately this was his last walk in Murlough Bay.
“He loved it there. Him and my mum got a caravan a few years ago in a caravan park and that was their safe haven. Anything that was going on in North Belfast they would be away. Down in Newcastle is where they spent most of their time.”
He said the family have been trying to piece together his last movements.
“CCTV in the caravan park showed him on Friday morning putting a bag of rubbish into the bins and then he was seen heading to the walkway into Murlough Bay.
“It took him about two and a half minutes to walk a distance I would be able to walk in 40 seconds so we think he was feeling unwell.
“He died on the Friday and it was my mum’s second anniversary on the Wednesday so we think this is why he took the Murlough coastal scenic route because that’s where him and my mum loved to walk.
“Normally he would have gone another direction because it was flat and there was low walls where he would take a rest.
“The Coroner’s report suggests he had severe heart disease which he was unaware of.
“It only would have been noticed after the autopsy.”
John said the family were distressed that rumours were circulating suggesting his dad took his own life.
“He wouldn’t have taken his own life. He was always concerned about looking after the caravan and making it available to the family. It wouldn’t have been in his nature.”