Joey Murrin: ‘utterly fearless’ and a ‘born communicator’

Fishing industry leader’s contribution recalled at his funeral in south Donegal

Fishing industry leader Joey Murrin was a "born communicator" with "extraordinary charisma" who was "utterly fearless" in both life and facing death, RTÉ journalist Tommie Gorman has said.

Addressing his funeral Mass in Killybegs, Co Donegal on Tuesday, Mr Gorman said that Joey was a "national figure" and a "premier division player" who loved his family, the fishing industry and his home port.

The former chief executive of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation (KFO) and chair of Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) died on Sunday at the age of 81 after a short illness.

Mr Gorman, currently RTÉ Northern editor, told hundreds of mourners in St Mary's Church that Joey's "honest face, sallow skin, and twinkle in the [ACTORS]Anthony Quinn or Robert de Niro" made him a natural communicator.


What made the difference was that “Joey believed in what he said”, Mr Gorman noted.

He recalled a 40-year friendship, from the time that he was RTÉ’s north-west correspondent, when the industry leader encouraged him to go to sea and showed him “how courage is a quality at the heart of the fishing sector”.

And when “tragedy struck”, he would “share the pain” of the bereaved, he said.

During his term with RTÉ in Brussels, Mr Gorman said he discovered "how political Joey was", and how he had a "great knack for getting on with the permanent government", as in civil servants.

Mr Gorman described his love of sport, particularly golf, and how “nothing pleased him more” than to walk down the town..and have the craic”. He recalled his devotion to his wife, Betty, and family.

In Joey’s final months, he had shared memories of taking his own father to visit the grave of his uncle, who had died in the first world war, and the knowledge that some young boys left Killybegs in bare feet to fight abroad and “never came home”.

Celebrant Fr Colm Gallagher recalled how if Joey Murrin had something critical to say of a politician in public, he had always made contact with same politician beforehand to alert them.

Offertory gifts included his cap, and prayers for the faithful remembered the rescue services and those working at sea.

Chief mourners were Mr Murrin’s widow, Betty, daughters Eilish and Edel, sons Malachy, Joseph and Alan.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp Col Liam Condon, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his aide-de-camp Commdt Caroline Burke.

Also in attendance were former Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley (FG), Marine Institute director of fisheries ecosystems Dr Paul Connolly, Department of Marine principal officer for seafood policy Josephine Kelly, KFO chief executive Sean O'Donoghue and Mr Murrin's former secretary Terry Tully.

Irish Fish Producers' Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Francis O'Donnell and Irish South and West Fish Producers' Organisation chief executive Patrick Murphy were present, along with many fishing skippers and crew from ports right around the coastline.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times