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Posted: 5/13/2004 2:31:45 AM EST


Marksman 'goes out with a bang'

The friends were keen clay pigeon shooting enthusiasts
An Irish shooting champion's friends and family are carrying out his rather unconventional last wishes to go out with a bang.
Tony Mullen, from Dundalk, County Louth, who died earlier this month at the age of 63, wanted his ashes to be turned into targets for clay pigeon shooters.

The 63-year-old's family thought he was joking when he first told them of his plan, but according to his friend and fellow marksman Willie Hughes, they were now "absolutely 100%" behind his decision.

Mr Hughes, from Bessbrook, County Armagh, is planning to hold a ceremony where family and friends will gather to blast the discs containing Mr Mullen's ashes out of the sky.

The ashes will be mixed in with bitumen to make the clay pigeons, which are disks of about four inches in diameter.

Each family member can get a chance to take a shot

Willie Hughes
"The plan is that all the shooters line up and when the word is shouted to pull, everybody will fire at the clay and scatter him all over the place," he told BBC News Online.

"When Tony knew he was ill, he brought up the idea in a jokey way among friends - he said he wanted to go out with a bang.

"He would talk and laugh about it, and it was no problem to him."

Mr Hughes said he had travelled with Mr Mullen to shooting events as far away as Australia and New Zealand as fellow members of the Irish clay pigeon shooting team.

He is even taking an extra step to ensure his friend's ashes are scattered in the way he wished.

"I told the family that I would spread Tony's ashes at every ground he had shot at in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

"I decided to take the lead out of the cartridges and fill them with Tony's ashes, so when the cartridge goes off, his ashes come out instead of the lead.

"This is what he wanted so this is what I'm doing - I'm just giving him his wish."


Mr Hughes has already begun the process of scattering the ashes.

"I released the first one at Kilkeel at the weekend, then went down south to Mullingar for the second," he said.

"We'll hold a more formal ceremony for the family when we get a chance to get it organised.

"Each family member can get a chance to take a shot."

Mr Hughes said he felt it was an honour to do this for his friend.

"I hope somebody will do it for me - I know Tony would have done it."

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