Family’s tribute to Cookstown man lost in 2004 tsunami

Connor Keightley
Connor Keightley

The family of a Cookstown man lost in the 2004 tsunami, this year marked the tenth anniversary of his death by releasing ten balloons containing messages of love “to a very special person”.

Whilst his mother also lit a candle to remember all those who died in the tragedy.

Connor Keightley was just 31-years-old when a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean claimed his life while on holiday in the Thai resort of Krabi, where his body was later found.

Shortly after the disaster, Connor’s sisters and two other family members travelled to Thailand on a week long trip to try and find him.

They spent three days cross-referencing records before returning to Phuket to register his details at the disaster victim identification centre.

Connor’s body was found three weeks after the tragedy, and when DNA tests confirmed his identity the Keightleys were able to bring him home.

This year, like every other since his passing, the computer technician’s family gathered at Holy Trinity Church on boxing day to celebrate mass in his honour, before visiting his place of rest.

A spokesperson for the family said: “In remembrance of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami we will be remembering Connor like we do every year - by attending morning mass and visiting his place of rest.

“To mark ten years we will release 10 balloons with messages of love and remembrance to a very special person - gone but not forgotten.

“We would also like to acknowledge the good people of Cookstown and beyond for their kind words and beautiful cards remembering Connor especially during this time,” they added.

“Mum will light a candle in her window to remember everyone effected by the St Stephen’s Day disaster, and as a family we will be thinking of other families who also lost loved ones - [having] their lives changed forever.”

At the time of the disaster Connor’s parents, Dermot and Theresa, spoke of their relief at being able to lay their son to rest despite the grief they felt at his passing.

“It was heartbreaking. But I was glad that he was found and that he would not be missing for the rest of our lives,” said his mother.

“Thank God he has been found and that is a comfort to us.

Connor’s father, Dermot, added that it had been a difficult time for all the family.

“We have to be thankful that we have a body, we have a grave that we can go to,” he said.