Over 1000 pay last respects to farmer David Crockett: ‘His laugh could be heard for miles’

Over 1000 people converged on a small Donegal church yard yesterday to pay their last respects to a Londonderry farmer whose laugh “could have been heard from miles away”.
Mourners attending the burial of David Crocket at Burt Presbyterian Church in County Donegal today.Mourners attending the burial of David Crocket at Burt Presbyterian Church in County Donegal today.
Mourners attending the burial of David Crocket at Burt Presbyterian Church in County Donegal today.

David Crockett, 58, died in an accident at his Coshquin Road farm on Monday after going to help his son, who had got into difficulties while carrying out roof repairs.

Since then he has repeatedly been described him as “unforgettable”, such was the warmth of his character and interest in people. David Buchanan, clerk of session at Burt Presbyterian Church, said yesterday he had never seen such a large funeral at the church during his 78 years as a member.

Beforehand, an open air funeral service was carried out in the front garden of the family home, with Mr Crockett’s wife Margaret sons Gordon and Lewis and daughter Rebecca standing beside Rev Jim Lamont as he gave a homily to a small crowd of about 80 people.

David Crockett on his farm on the Londonderry / Donegal border.

Photo: Press Eye.David Crockett on his farm on the Londonderry / Donegal border.

Photo: Press Eye.
David Crockett on his farm on the Londonderry / Donegal border. Photo: Press Eye.

“It wasn’t possible to fight with David because he would just laugh at you until you were laughing together and whatever grievance was forgotten. His laugh could have been heard from miles away.” Rev Lamont said, recounting tributes from his family.

“There are a lot of things that can be said about David Crockett. I will be telling stories about him forever but if you want it to fit in a sentence, he was just a good man,” he added.

He added: “I have been a minister for almost 50 years. I don’t know how many funeral services I have conducted but I do know that I have never experienced one like this, where tributes have come from so many parts of the country and from much wider afield.

“He was just a good man, a lovely man, a man who truly lived out his faith in his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the one he served so faithfully.”

UFU Deputy President Victor Chestnut was one of those who attended, noting that Mr Crockett had been a strong supporter of the union.

“Talking to farmers who were at the house, everybody had a great word to say about him,” he said. One farmer said to him: “Davy Crockett was as fine a man as ever walked in this area”.

Later, across the border at Burt Presbyterian Church Burying Ground in Co Donegal, over 1000 people turned out to pay their last respects. Cars were parked on both sides of the road for half a mile in both directions.

Mr Crockett had become somewhat of a media pundit three years ago. His farm straddled the Londonderry - Donegal border and he was regularly sought out by journalists for his views on Brexit and what it would mean for the farming community.

Rev Lamont related how Mr Crockett had grown up at Coshquin with his older siblings Anne, John, Robin and late Gordon.

David could always find the light in a situation, he said. Growing up on the border during the Troubles, and “exposed to crossfire on all sides” David and his brother Gordon often collected bullet casings from the bottom of the road and sold them to the highest bidder in school.

Even from an early age he loved to be outside, rain or shine, and always found something to do about the yard.

And as an avid member and leader in the Young Farmers Club, he was often an instigator of mischief.

However “his time soon came” when he met Margaret, his future wife, at the club.

“I’m told that Margaret was at first sceptical of David as she had heard tales of the yahoos down this end of the country from her father. However it didn’t take much persuading for the pair of them to say I do.”

His children also paid tribute to him as a loving father.

“For anyone who believes men can’t multi-task you just have to look at David. When Gordon would cry at night he would be sat at the bottom of the bed with country music playing rocking the pram with his foot as he tried to get some beauty sleep.”

The cleric noted how the couple loved to travel, never going to the same place twice, jumping at the chance of a new adventure.

“No matter where he went he always saw someone he knew, or at the very least he knew them by the end of the conversation. Every year Margaret and him travelled the country and made many memories together just by seeing where the road took them.”

And there were also fond memories of his passions away from farming.

“He loved rugby and often tried to give the players some advice through the screen but it shockingly never worked. And there was nothing better than coming home after a long day and watching a 3-hour cowboy epic, in his opinion anyway.”

Finally, Rev Lamont also echoed the many tributes made to Mr Crockett’s caring nature.

“David cared for his Father for many years,” he said. “He checked on him at least three times a day and listened to Robert’s advice even when it was wrong. In fact David checked in on everyone in his life. Not because he had to but because he genuinely cared.”

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