Tom embodied loyalty to religion and his culture

Thomas Fegan
Thomas Fegan

PROFOUND sorrow spread over a wide area when it was learned of the passing of Mr Thomas David Fegan, 96 Old Mill Road, Loughbrickland.

Tom, as he was affectionately known, was the dearly loved husband of Olive and the devoted father of Trevor, Mervyn, Gordon and Raymond.

Tom had just been taken into Craigavon Area Hospital the week previous to his passing and passed away peacefully on July 12.

This was a very poignant date for him as he was for over 70 years an Orangeman and never missed the Twelfth of thirteenth of July.

Paying tribute, the minister Rev Peter Thornbury said, “Tom was born into a farming family in 1925 and as a young man soon learned his trade. He was a family man and enjoyed his family. He met Olive over half a century ago, she a young girl from a farming background, whom he married.

“In only a matter of weeks they would have been celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. He told someone not so long ago that getting married to Olive was the happiest day of his life. That happiness was made four times over in the birth of his sons and later in life his 10 grandchildren.

“He loved them all and was always generous when they were around. He was always keen as a young man to improve his farming and bought new the first T20 Ferguson Tractor in the whole area. This he has passed onto his grandson William who is now the proud owner.

“Tom was steeped in the culture of the land and loved the Lambeg Drum, learning to play one early in life. His enthusiasm was such that he and another young man strapped a Lambeg Drum between two bicycles, both cycled to Kilkeel, played in a drumming contest and then cycled home.

“Despite his quiet demeanour and his thoughtful and measured words, his ability and intelligence were to flower, not only his farming life but also within the Orange Order, which he joined at 17 years of age, entering the Gideon Chosen Few LOL 21, and remaining there for 70 years.

“Later he also became a member of the Royal Black Preceptory becoming a Sir Knight of King Solomon’s Rising Star R.B.P 402, Loughbrickland. And if that wasn’t enough he was also a member of the Ulster Unionist Party all his life.

“He rose in the ranks of L.O L 21 and held all the offices at different times of his life. He was a Past Master in R.B.P 402 and also a Past District Master in Loughbrickland District No 10. He loved his Church St Mellan’s and served in the Select Vestry for over 50 years. A man who from youth to old age enjoyed the different gatherings and would sing ‘A Mother’s Love Is A Blessing’ and another little song about a wee man who sat on a wall in Scarva. His other talent was rearing little suckling calves, and with Olive’s help nursing them back to health. While steeped in Orange culture, Tom was still held in the deepest respect by his Roman Catholic neighbours.

“He equally displayed the same deep respect and friendly neighbourliness towards them. It is said that he had no enemies that anyone knows of. In old age he loved meeting people at Mervyn’s shop and helping out. His love for his sons and grandchildren, and all the extended family is without question. I found Tom forthright, honest and hardworking, the mark of a ‘True Man’ who took care of his family.

“While he will be sorely missed we still give thanks for his long and productive life. Because of his demeanor someone recently described him as a ‘True Country Gentleman’ a hard example to follow but be assured that this has happened because his sons Trevor, Mervyn, Gordon and Raymond are truly a first class example of young men who not only loved and respected their father, but are proud to carry on the virtues of hardwork, loyalty to their culture and religion, all of which were embodied in Tom.

“His departure will hurt and will on many occasion raise tears. As one son describing him said ‘He was the best Dad in the World’ Tom’s soul is with God, Remember God is Merciful and Kind. Tom is in good hands, remembering also, Jesus asked us not to fear, but trust in him. Tom did trust and that trust will be well rewarded. As for us, we should look carefully at our own lives. And then do what is right, treat others with respect, kindness and love, irrespective of class colour or creed. Remembering that our time here is short. So let us follow The Way, The Truth and The Life, ‘Jesus’.”

He is survived by his wife Olive, sons Trevor, Mervyn, Gordon and Raymond, Daughters-in-law Elizabeth, Valerie, Amanda & Heather, grandchildren James, William, Hilary, Edward, Jack, Sarah May, Isaac, Lily, Marissa and Lexi, sisters Sadie & Mabel. To these and all other relatives sincere sympathy has been extended.

The funeral took place from his home for service in Aghaderg Parish Church.

As it made its way on passing the Orange Hall the hearse paused for a few moments. The hymns ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’, ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ and ‘The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended’ were sung. Mrs. Anne McCullough presided at the organ. Mr. Thornbury was assisted by Mr. Keith Murdock Worshipful District Master of No 10 District and Pastor Ian Wilson.

Many people were left standing outside. The interment took place in the adjoining Churchyard. Family flowers were placed on the grave and donations in lieu are being sent to William Bell and Co. Funeral Directors, 23 Kenlis Street, Banbridge, BT32 3LR for Aghaderg Parish Church.

William Bell and Co. had charge of the funeral arrangements.