Sunday 23 October 2016

Heartbroken son pays tribute to his 'Super Hero' uncle after brothers die in double tragedy

The scene of the tragic incident. Inset, brothers Steve Harris and Alan Harris
The scene of the tragic incident. Inset, brothers Steve Harris and Alan Harris

The heartbroken nephew of Stephen Harris has paid a moving tribute to his "super hero" uncle.

Brave Stephen (34) lost his fight for life yesterday after attempting to save his brother Alan (45), who died on Wednesday while working on a sewer in Portmarnock after toxic fumes overpowered him.

Alan Jnr described his uncle as "a living legend" in a touching homage on social media posted after his death.

"My Super Hero uncle who went straight down to try and save my Dad's life has also passed away," he said.

"Steve Harris was a living legend. I looked up to him from a little kid like a big brother. Taught me many things and helped me through my teens massively. I owe him a lot of life experience back, and I will repay him in his own son.


"I wish I could have thanked you properly man, you're a hero. Shows what we are made of that you'd give your life for your brother."

Alan Jnr also paid tribute to his dad, who he said was his best friend.

"Words to describe how broken I am don't even exist," he wrote.

"My Dad has been stolen from my world. Always put everyone before himself, gave everyone his time, his money, his advice.

"He was a straightforward man. Loved us all and worked hard to support us. He ran marathons, managed soccer teams, smashed cross-fit events, directed five companies alongside my mam and barely had a Junior Cert.

"He was my best friend and moved mountains for me. Hung out like buddies and I've always been told I talk about him too much.

"I hope I grow older to be just like you Dad. Nothing will ever fill this gap, but you've left behind a legacy, and I love you and I will always continue to make you proud.

"Please rest in peace, I'll man the Harris fort now."

Alan Jnr urged everyone to tell their families they loved them because "you never know when a phone call will change your life forever".

The funeral mass for tragic Alan Snr is scheduled to take place today at 10am at Saint Agnes's Church in his native Crumlin.

Ireland football star Robbie Keane is a first cousin of the dead brothers, and it was unknown yesterday whether he would be able to take part in today's Euro qualifier match against Scotland.

Team manager Martin O'Neill said it would be Keane's own decision if he wanted to play at the Aviva stadium.

Keane trained, but did not attend the Republic's pre-match press conference at Dublin Airport, and O'Neill said he had been deeply affected by the news.

"It was obviously very bad news this morning, so he's not feeling great, I must admit. Obviously, he feels for the family and he is quite down at the moment," O'Neill said.

"If he feels he wants to participate in the game tomorrow, it will be entirely his decision.

"I don't think you could ever question his professionalism - it's how he's feeling within himself, really, as much as anything else.

"But as I say, it was obviously bad news this morning. He's not great."

Defender John O'Shea, who stood in for Keane, expressed the players' support for the LA Galaxy frontman and his family.

"As the manager said, it's very sad news and I echo the sentiments of the manager. Our thoughts are with the family," he said .

"But look, there's obviously a good morale around him. We will look after Robbie, and if he needs whatever support, it will be there for him.

"He's a very good professional, but obviously football does take a back step when something like that happens."

The Harris family have been plunged into mourning by the terrible double tragedy.

Alan was overcome by toxic gases in the incident and Stephen succumbed too while trying to save him.

Alan was the owner of Draintech and father to Alan Jnr and Nicole.

Derek Harris, a brother of the two men, put a message on social media on behalf of Stephen's partner, Eve, and their son, Nathan.

"On behalf of Eve, Nathan and our heartbroken families I've been asked to say a few words," he wrote.

"Stephen went by many names to everyone that knew him, but to Eve he was Steve, he was everything, and to Nathan he was just simply Dad.

"They loved him and he loved them even more back because everything Steve did was always double what you could give.

"If you were fortunate to meet him then you would have been the recipient of a Stevie hug and you always went away feeling better.


"Steve died a hero trying to save his brother Alan and to us he will always be our hero.

"Steve, you were my best friend and best man. We will love you always."

Alan's widow, Tracy Glynn, indicated she was hoping yesterday that her husband's beloved BlueBird Dublin Van will be the hearse at his funeral today.

The van had been decked out in Dublin GAA colours by the Harris brothers.

"I'm hoping that's going to be his hearse," she said. "That's going to be what's going to transport him to St Agnes's Church in Crumlin."

Another heartbroken brother, Mark, said Alan was "a special man".

In a moving tribute on Facebook, he wrote: "My heart is broken today about the death of one of my wonderful brothers, Alan Harris, a special man who I looked up to.

"His achievements in life are too numerous to mention. He will always have a special place in my heart."

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