6 September 2007 Edition
Michael McAnespie – A friend to many
Shock and sorrow throughout Tyrone and beyond greeted news of the tragic death of Mid Tyrone Councillor Mickey McAnespie. His funeral in Loughmacrory was one of the biggest for a long time – an indication of the high esteem in which he was held.
Killed while tending cattle on his farm outside Carrickmore Mickey was a farmer at heart, but found time to play a very active role in the community as well as being one of the most effective councillors in Mid Tyrone and fought to the best of his ability for the issues that affected the people of his rural area. Mickey served on Omagh District Council for ten years and was Chairperson of the Council in 2005/6.
The McAnespie name is synonymous with struggle and his proud family has suffered much at the hands of the British forces. Mickey’s brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces endured much in the Aughnacloy border region over the last 30 years. It is sad that Mickey should be cut down so tragically when the struggle was coming to fruition, with some light at the end of the tunnel.
Mickey threw himself into community projects and it was appropriate that Loughmacrory GAA should play an important role in the funeral as he was a founding member, a keen supporter, and a genuine follower of Gaelic games.
As a strong community man he was supportive of all organisations and groups that worked for the welfare of the people. The Credit Union, farmers groups, local Community Associations, Youth Clubs and others have good reason to mourn his passing. Mickey saw such groups as an integral part of his work.
Effective constituency work at local level in Mid-Tyrone was the role he played best and his total dedication and commitment to improving the quality of life for his constituents and others further afield is well remembered. The maintenance of local roads, establishing footpaths along busy roads, securing planning permission, campaigning against PPS14, introducing drainage schemes, campaigning for better social housing, providing health and leisure facilities were some of the many projects he struggled for over the years.
Mickey fought a hard battle for the retention of acute services at Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh. His contribution on delegations to Stormont in support of this campaign has already passed into history.
Mickey’s friendly manner and deep sincerity endeared him to all and cut across all political boundaries. He appealed to all sides in the community and his non-confrontational approach often bore worthwhile results.
There were expressions of sympathy from all sections of the community and from all political parties. The monthly meeting of Omagh District Council was adjourned on Tuesday, 1 May, 2007, as a mark of respect to Mickey.
The loss to the community is great but the vacuum left in the McAnespie household is almost unfathomable. Patricia and his nine children have lost an outstanding family man who led by example. A man of deep faith and a lifelong pioneer, he was a father whose family took pride of place in his life. To them the whole republican family will wish to extend their deepest sympathy.
Leading members of Sinn Féin were in attendance at St. Mary’s Church, Loughmacrory for the funeral Mass and burial in the cemetery afterwards. Fellow Sinn Féin Omagh Councillor Peter Kelly gave the graveside oration and said; “Mickey made such a positive contribution to many people’s lives in his 63 years and his tragic passing has left behind a gaping void which will be impossible to fill. His friendly down to earth manner endeared him to everyone he met regardless of political allegiance”.
Peter’s words were still echoing in people’s minds as they made their way to the local Community Centre afterwards where people exchanged stories of Mickey’s contribution towards the improvement of life in Tír Eoghain. It is appropriate enough to finish with the words;
“Ni fheicimid a leithéid arís” – “We will seldom see the likes of him again”.
Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam uasal.
BY Pádráig Ó Gruagáin