Northern Ireland

Mourne Mountains: Dead walkers named as Seán Byrne and Robbie Robinson

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Media captionWalkers are shocked because deaths are not common in the Mournes, says Bert Rima

Two men who died after separate falls while walking in the Mourne Mountains in County Down have been named locally.

Seán Byrne, from Camlough in County Armagh, and Robbie Robinson, from Banbridge in County Down, died on Wee Binnian and Slieve Commedagh.

The police and other emergency services were called to both incidents but the men were pronounced dead at the scene.

A third man fell in the Mournes at about 14:30 GMT but he was rescued.

He sustained a suspected broken ankle.

Image copyright Craobh Rua Camlocha/Pacemaker
Image caption Seán Byrne and Robbie Robinson died in separate incidents

The Armagh GAA club where Mr Byrne had been a lifelong member said it was "devastated" by his death.

He had been a treasurer and trustee at Craobh Rua Camlocha hurling club.

The club said he "possessed great gifts of commitment, integrity, calmness and care".

Mark Patience, from the Mourne Rambling Group, was also walking in the mountains on Sunday and said his group had changed course due to the winds.

"The gusts were extremely strong," he said.

"There were times where we had to stop and stand still and brace against them."

'Knock people off their feet'

"There are no warnings of these gusts and if they're that strong in the valley it became clear to us that they were going to be much stronger on the summits.

"Strong enough surely to knock people off their feet."

He said the group heard someone shouting for help and went to see if they could help but could not see anything because of cloud cover.

They contacted the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team.

Walkers who were on the Mournes said they attempted rescues after hearing cries for help but were stopped by poor weather.

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Media captionMourne Mountain winds high on day two men die in falls

Mr Patience added that his walking group was "devastated" by the news.

"Two deaths in one day is so sad.

"The weather in the Mournes can change very quickly - people need to be careful."

Belfast man Paul Currie was walking on the Mournes with his family on Sunday and described the wind as "insane".

He told BBC News NI that he and other walkers were searching the mountains after hearing cries for help but the calls soon died down.

"Many people searched and did their best," he said.

"I have never seen so many people come together to help without taking into account the dangers they were putting themselves in.

"I found it really upsetting when hearing the news - I just really wish we could have found them."

Image caption Veronica McCann, president of the Wee Binnian Walkers group, said the incidents were "an extreme tragedy"

Veronica McCann, the president of the Wee Binnian Walkers group, told BBC News NI that conditions on the mountains can "change in a minute".

She said she was on the Mournes on Sunday and had to "cling on" because of the wind, even though she had not been at a high elevation.

"I had to use my sticks, I was really conscious of that wind and had to protect myself," she said.

She added that the deaths on Sunday were "an extreme tragedy".

The Mourne Mountain Rescue Team said that 21 of its members responded to both incidents.

It said on its Facebook page that the first call at 12:10 GMT involved a walker who had fallen from a crag on Wee Binnian.

It added: "While this incident was being dealt with a second call was received, requesting response to a separate incident involving two walkers, one of whom had fallen from crags on the east side of Slieve Commedagh.

"The other walker had become cragfast in trying to reach and assist the casualty.

"A crew was dispatched to the scene and unfortunately found that the fall had again been fatal.

"Team members set up a rope rescue to bring his cragfast companion to safety and recovered the deceased with assistance from the PSNI."

The rescue team extended its sympathies to the families of the deceased.

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