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Tearful farewells to murdered GAA man

MOURNERS at the funeral of James Hughes were told of the "cruel irony" that such a kind and caring man died violently.

The father-of-three (35) who was blasted to death with a shotgun in Dundalk had an open-hearted and kind nature, said the priest at his funeral.

He was shot dead as he sat in a taxi in a housing estate last Sunday. Fr Joseph McKeever told the congregation at his funeral in Crossmaglen that Mr Hughes had universal popularity and a tireless humanity.

"It is a cruel irony that he should have met his death in an act of violence," he said.

The priest spoke against talk of retribution and said his memory should not be dishonoured with thoughts of recrimination.

He was laid to rest under sombre skies in his hometown in County Armagh yesterday. Friends and family lined the streets of the border town.

His coffin, draped in the black and gold flag of Crossmaglen Rangers GAA squad, was brought from his father's home to the church, carried at times by his devastated teammates.

In a silent procession, the coffin was walked the short distance to the club house and paused as a mark of respect to the man who had served as captain and had clinched three All-Ireland club medals.

Fr McKeever said people were "privileged to have known him and to have had him as a beacon of hope and joy."

He offered the community's deepest sympathies to Mr Hughes' father James, his three children Lee, Tiernan and Darragh, and his partner Genny.

Mr Hughes was shot as he sat in a taxi with friend Patricia Byrne (21) outside her house at Cluain Ard, Lis na Mara estate.