TYRONE has seen many tragedies over the years, including ones that have affected the GAA community, both directly and indirectly. I have reported on some in the past. The latest tragic death in the county took place in the countryside around Augher, in the parish of Clogher, close to the border with County Monaghan. As the crow flies, it is only a few miles to the scene of another community in mourning, the parish of Donagh, where the body of 19 year-old Jason McGovern (Knocknagrave, Tydavnet) was returned home in a candlelit vigil last night. The links between the two areas, cut off when the main cross-border road was blocked, remain close. Jason’s father Seamus comes from the parish of Clogher. The two deaths however are unconnected.
The PSNI say they have begun a murder enquiry following the death of a 60 year-old man whose body was found at Aghindarragh Road near Augher on Friday evening. The location is not far from the historic site known as St Patrick’s chair and well in Altdaven wood. An 18 year-old man was arrested and is continuing to help police with their enquiries. The man who died was Wishie (Aloysius) Hackett. He worked as a joiner and was a prominent member of St Macartan’s GAA Club in Augher. Clogher parish priest Canon Lawrence Dawson said the family were numb and could not explain what had happened. He described Mr Hackett as a wonderful community man who had done much for the area and for local (Gaelic) football. A statement from the GAA club said the family had appealed for privacy at this time of mourning. A one minute’s silence in memory of Mr Hackett was held before Tyrone’s Dr McKenna Cup match against Derry at Healy Park in Omagh. Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew said she expressed her sympathies to all concerned especially family and friends who were sadly dealing with this news. She said her thoughts and prayers were with those affected by the death. Ulster Unionist councillor Allan Rainey said the man’s death had shocked and numbed the community. “They just can’t really take it in that something of this nature could happen,” he added. A forensic team spent most of Saturday carrying out investigations beside a house and the surrounding area was cordoned off for several hours.
UPDATE: An 18 year-old man has been charged with the murder of Wishie Hackett. The teenager, who was detained on Friday, was charged after detectives were given until (tonight) Monday evening to charge or release him. He is due to appear before Omagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. The PSNI say a 17-year-old youth arrested in connection with the incident on Sunday has been released, pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service. It is believed three of Mr Hackett’s children were out of the country when news of his death emerged. They are travelling home for his funeral which is due to take place at St Macartan’s Church (the Forth chapel) at Ballynagurragh near Augher on Wednesday.
Photos: © Michael Fisher 2013