District shocked after sudden death of popular minister and school teacher

The Banbridge and Rathfriland area has been left shocked by the sudden death of former local minister and Rathfriland High School teacher, Rev. David Somerville.

Rev David Somerville
Rev David Somerville
Rev David Somerville

Rev. Somerville’s son has told how he has been “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of tributes to him.

Ian Somerville, 33, said the death of his father the Rev Somerville at the age of 57 had been “a terrible shock and we weren’t expecting to be at this stage for a long, long time”.

The father-of-three - who was serving in St Matthew’s Church of Ireland in Richhill - died on Saturday morning.

“He was a young man with a lot of life still in him,” his son said.

“He was an active man; a fit, healthy man and he was always very busy with the parish and his ministry.

“He had good health although he had all the wee complaints we all have. He had the flu recently but he was in perfect health apart from that.

“The doctors aren’t really sure what happened. He just suddenly deteriorated and that was it.”

Mr Somerville added that “one thing about my dad was that he always had time for you”.

“No matter what he was doing, he always had time for you and was only a phone call away,” he said.

“He was the rock of the family and was a tremendous support for everyone – it is hard to take.”

Mr Somerville added that the family “fully believed he would have been here in Richhill to the end of his ministry and he had only been here two-and-a-half years – he loved it”.

The grieving son said his father - who had taught religious education for 17 years in Rathfriland High School - decided to go for the ministry when he was 38.

He said his father had also been a minister in Rathfriland for 10 years.

“He was a wonderful father. I couldn’t have asked for anything more in a father,” said Mr Somerville.

“He has three children - I am the eldest, then my sister Sarah and then nine-year-old Dan who came at a later stage in life.

“That is the heartbreak but there is a good family around him.

“My daddy was remarried to May and they have been together for 11 years and were very, very happy together.”

The funeral service for Rev Somerville will be held at 1pm today in St Matthew’s Church in Richhill.