“Our family is broken,” said the devastated sister of Alan Haughey who died suddenly in a car accident in Australia at the weekend.
Alan (28) had been on his way to a river kayaking trip to pan for gold and planned to make a ring for his girlfriend Elaine Ni Meachair.
His sister Christine said the entire family is heartbroken.
Christine said: “Our family is broken. It will never be fixed. We are just heartbroken.”
The son of Terry and Maureen Haughey from Drumglass, Alan had moved to the Perth area in August after around four years of trips there.
Mr Haughey worked as a mechanic for MMS Engineering which is based in Kalgoorlie, a Western Australian town located 370 miles east of Perth.
He had been a back seat passenger in a 4X4 when the driver lost control. It is believed he died almost instantly.
His sister said she bears no grudge to the 24-year-old driver.
“He will have to live with this for the rest of his life,” she said.
Christine described her brother as ‘hyper’ from when he was born. The baby of the house he was always ‘full of beans, full of life’.
“There was always a twinkle in his eye,” she said.
His brother Mark said: “He was always very independent. He was vivacious and fun loving.”
His sister revealed he went open water diving with sharks a few years back after he got his diving licence.
Initially he went to Canada to stay with his aunt and worked there for a while but didn’t like the cold.
“He came home from Canada and literally went up the stairs one night and came down the next morning to say he was going to Australia with his visas and everything organised,” said Christine. “He was gone within a week.”
Mark said: “He never let the grass grow. If he was going to do something he would do it there and then.”
He spent several years travelling to various parts of Australia before settling in the Kalgoorlie area.
“He enjoyed the west coast mentality. There was a laid back attitude and there was a strong industrial base there too. He got involved with the mining companies and he was a diesel mechanic so what better things to work on than some of the biggest mining machines in the country and he enjoyed working outside in the warm weather. And the craic was good there.”
Christine said it was an international community and they all made their own family. He spent a lot of time in backpackers hostels and made a lot of friends through there. She said his phrase was to ‘just rock up’ which is to land at someone’s home. She explained that he had a very comfortable way about him and always seemed able to make himself at home.
A former pupil of St Anthony’s Primary School and Lismore Comprehensive, Alan’s philosophy was ‘don’t plan it, just do it’. He was regarded by many of his friends’ parents as a second son, who was praised as a polite and gentlemanly young person.
Mark said his brother definitely led an adventurous lifestyle. “He was a thrill-seeker.”
Mark explained that everything is starting at midnight due to the time difference in Australia but they have been greatly helped by the Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund. They gave him contact details for the Claddagh Association in Perth. A Lurgan woman Joan Ross (nee Larkin) is president of the association and still has strong family links to Lurgan.
He was full of praise for Joan. “It is like having someone there when you are not.” He said although they have an uncle in Perth, Joan has been extremely helpful and knows what needs to be done.
Mark said that one of his mates posted: “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today and that kind of summarises him.”
“He had that get-up-and-go attitude. Nothing was too big, nothing was too large to overcome and achieve but at the same time it was not at the expense of others. If he could bring you along with him and to see you enjoy something as much as he did, that would have meant the world to him.
“He bought a motorbike and drove to Germany on it. He had a carefree spirit. His friends call him a legend. He was a fantastic son, a wonderful brother and an amazingly proud uncle,” said Christine.
He is survived by his mother and father Maureen and Terry Haughey and his sisters Christine and Nicola and his brother Mark, his girlfriend Elaine as well as eight nieces and nephews and wide family circle.