Lives Remembered

Sandy Hill B_TEACHING STAFF-72 Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-181 gus-campbell Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-191 Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-192 exa784056
Jerry Hicks
James Anthony Bradley 1940–1999 Gus Campbell
John Darby
John Greer (1953)
Malachy McGeeney
jim-blaney Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-208 Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-210 Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-219 Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-212 Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-213
Jim Blaney
Patrick J Tuite
Harry Mullan
Hugh McCormick
Dr. James McVeigh
Victor Quinn
Pat Kernan
 Michael McGeary




Jerry Hicks
1916 – 1995


Sandy Hill B_TEACHING STAFF-72When Jerry Hicks passed away, Armagh lost one of it’s most noble citizens, “a gentleman and a scholar”, Jerry was a dedicated family man and a most perceptive, articulate but humble person who carried his extraordinary learning and insight lightly. It was a surprise to many of his Armagh friends and past pupils to learn that Jerry Hicks was a Munster man! A native of Co. Cork, he moved with his family to Armagh in 1922, when he was six years old. He kept contact with his native county through visits to his Hicks and O’Sullivan relations and friends recall that his speech reflected a strong Cork influence for many years after he had settled in Armagh.

1928 saw the beginning of Jerry’s long association with St. Patrick’s College as Fr. McQuillan said in his funeral mass homily, “Noone could have realised at that stage how much the life of St. Patricks College and the life of Jerry Hicks would become so intwined.

In his student days at St. Patrick’s (1928-1933), Jerry Hicks excelled achieving exceptional exam results and gaining scholarships and exhibitions. He also shone academically at Queens University where he studied for an arts degree. Jerry’s name remains in the sporting hall of fame at Queens as he played on the gaelic football team that won the Sigerson Cup. After Queens this talented, gifted and versatile graduate returned to Armagh where he was to spend the rest of his working life in education, something for which generations of students can be grateful.

He taught for a short period at the old Armagh Technical School in Market Street and in the late 1930s did some substitute teaching in the College. In 1942 the College President, Father Rafferty, appointed him as a full-time member of staff, at a time when most of the staff were Vincentian priests. Jerry began a teaching career rhat lasted until the early 1980s. He retired on 3ISt August 1981, but stayed on as part-time teacher for a few years. Jerry Hicks was a gifted teacher whose unique style, insight and understanding endeared him to generations of students. He inspired in them an appreciation and feeling for English literature and also communicated his own deep love of the Irish language, music and culture. Because of these and his many other gifts and attributes, Jerry is still remembered with great warmth and affection by past pupils of the college throughout the world. He watched their careers with interest, and delighted in their successes and promotions.

Jerry saw great value in the Past Pupils’ Union of which he was a founder member and he remained active on the council until illness curtailed his involvement in the early 1980s. When he retired, Jerry was sorely missed by his colleagues who had always enjoyed his ready wit, his humorous stories and his sharp quips. The Vincentian Fathers always acknowledged that in Jerry Hicks, Willie 0 Riordan, Sean 0 Boyle and John Doherty they had a team of exceptionally talented, wise and inspirational teachers whose names were synonymous with excellence.

For all his dedication to St Patrick’s College throughout his life, and his obvious love for and commitment to his family, Jerry found time to pursue his other diverse activities with enthusiasm. A talented singer and musician, Jerry had a passionate interest in Ulster folk song in Irish and English. He often sang on radio and recorded songs for the BBC folk archives. He can be heard on a BBC L.P., ‘Ulster’s Flowery Vale’, and in the early 1970s he recorded a highly praised album of Ulster songs in Irish for Gael-Linn, ‘Ceolta Uladh’, which was published by Sean Óg Ó Baoill.

Jerry’s musical interests weren’t confined to the folk domain. He will be remembered for many memorable performances in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in the City Hall and in St Patrick’s Hall, for St Joseph’s Musical Society, as well as for producing musicals at St Patrick’s College. His own instrument was the guitar. and Jerry loved to hear the repertoire of the classical guitar as well.

He had strong links with BBC schools programmes, contributing to many programmes and radio plays and introducing some of his St Patrick’s students to the wonders of radio drama.

The Irish language and traditions were so important to Jerry Hicks and his easy fluency and gentle enthusiasm inspired many, not only in the college, but in the Gaelic League language classes he taught many years ago. His affiniry with the Donegal Gaeltacht and its people was always evident.

Jerry Hicks contributed in so many ways to the life of Armagh parish. He was a keen local historian and he published a most valuable guide book on St Patrick’s Cathedral.



James Anthony Bradley
September 1940 – June 1999.

Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-181The recent death of Doctor Tony Bradley at the age of 58 has robbed the Past Pupils Union of a great supporter and the wider community of an endearing character. In his lifetime, Tony played many parts. He was in turn a clerical student, a civil servant, a university student, a soldier and finally a medical student and doctor.

Tony Bradley came from Coleraine to St. Patrick’s in 1952. He was a very modest and unassuming person. His natural reserve, however, concealed a first class mind and a character of great strength and integrity which even then was acknowledged by his classmates. During his years at St. Pat’s, Tony contributed much to the academic and sporting life of the college. A great humorist, he could always be relied on to bring laughter to the corridors and particularly the dormitory where he was invariably first out of bed when the Dean asked for “talkers out.”

On leaving St. Pat’s in 1957, Tony studied for the priesthood at Dalgan Park, Navan, for over three years before deciding that his future life lay in the wider world. He subsequently joined the Department of Agriculture for a short period before studying Economics at Queens University where he graduated in 1966. It was his intention at this stage to become an accountant but instead, he went to America and volunteered for service in the United States Army. He spent two years n the army, the last year in Vietnam. It was a measure of his ability and courage that he was invited to join the crack American Regiment, the Green Berets. He decided, however, that it was time for him to return to Ireland to pick up the threads of his life. Tony was always reticent in later years about his army exploits in Vietnam and he never mentioned the fact that he had received a medal of Commendation for Bravery.

On his return home from Vietnam in 1968, Tony decided to become a doctor. Entry into a medical faculty required him to study ‘0’ an ‘A’ Level Physics and Chemistry which he completed in one year. He became a medical student at University College, Cork in 1969 and subsequently qualified as a doctor in 1975. In 1972, while still a student, he married Helene Tyrrell from Belfast who was to be a source of great strength and support to him for the rest of his life.

Returning to Belfast in 1977 with Helene and two small children (with another due shortly afterwards) Tony completed his housemanship in the Ballymoney and Whiteabbey Hospitals before spending a year in a medical practice on the Antrim Road in Belfast. He subsequently joined another medical practice in Antrim where he became a partner and practiced for a number of years. His kindness, tolerance, integrity and devotion to work are well remembered by his former patients and colleagues.

Tony first contracted cancer in 1979. It was typical of Tony that he made every effort not to let his illness interfere with his work. Eventually, however, he had to retire form Private Practice in 1986 and joined the DHSS as a medical referee.

Unfortunately, his illness forced him into permanent retirement in 1995. This allowed him more time to indulge his passion for sport – soccer, gaelic football, hurling, rugby, boxing, golf and squash; he was a mine of information on these sports and indeed was a more useful squash player than golfer. Seldom were St. Pat’s playing a MacRory Cup match that Tony did not try to attend. Even when he was very ill, he travelled to Dublin in April for the Ireland and Italy Rugby match at Lansdowne Road and managed to get to Casement Park to see Derry play Cavan at the beginning of June.

Tony Bradley was one of nature’s gentlemen – a great character with a delightful sense of humour. He had an exceptional ability to relate to all manner of people and was a most loyal friend. He was a great family man and visitors to the Bradley household were always made most welcome. He is survived by Helene and their two daughters, Tona and Ciara, and one son, Connor. He will be greatly missed.



Gus Campbell
May 1939 – June 2011.

Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-186A Solicitor, a barrister, an avid GAA follower, a keen gardener and a great friend to all, Gus Campbell was a man who during his 72 years left a lasting impression on everyone he met. A man of profound legal knowledge, extraordinary quick wit and humble confidence, his interest was always in helping those who were in a less fortunate position.

As a heavyweight in the legal profession for almost four decades, Gus treated everyone equally, providing representation and guidance to all sections of the community during some of Northern Ireland’s most difficult times.

The young Gus Campbell grew up on the Lough Shore in his beloved Maghery. He boarded at St Patrick’s College, Armagh, where he excelled academically, starred at athletics and tennis and played in the 1957 MacRory Cup Final. Football at county level may have followed but his studies took him to England where he initially taught in a secondary school.
Graduating in law from the University of Manchester in 1966, he returned home to train with Oliver Napier in Belfast before working with PA Duffy Solicitors and then Brian McRoberts in Armagh.
He branched out on his own in 1976 setting up Gus Campbell Solicitors on High Street, Portadown and
again on Church Street after the 1993 bombing in the town.

Solicitor Sean Hagan recalled how he loved court work. “Gus was always a formidable advocate in support of his client’s interest,” he said. “He was invariably fair, reliable and trustworthy as a colleague. It was impossible to fall out with him due to his wonderful humour and deep sense of humanity.”
In 1986 Gus expanded his business, opening another office in College Street, Armagh. Although he retired from the practice in 2002 it was inevitable he would re-enter the legal profession and in March 2005 he fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he was called to the Bar.

He was a tremendous asset to the various committees he sat on and to the board of governors of St Patrick’s Grammar and St Catherine’s Primary schools in Armagh. However, his great passion outside work was the GAA.
He managed and chaired Maghery GFC, managed Madden GFC and rejoiced most of all when Armagh won the Sam Maguire in 2002. Gus also played for Armagh Rugby Club and took a keen interest in road bowling – as the scores passed his meticulously maintained gardens on the Battleford Road he was always among the spectators, exchanging friendly banter. His other interests included music and horse-racing and he shared a boat on Lough Neagh with his brother Patsy where he spent many hours relaxing. Gus passed away peacefully at his home on June 16 last year.

A loving husband and father, his death has left a huge void within his family and throughout the legal profession where he was known to all as Gus, a man who loved life and is still missed. Before adjourning Armagh Magistrates Court as a mark of respect, District Judge Paul Copeland paid tribute to the former solicitor. “His knowledge of the law, the human condition, his county and country informed a vibrant and animated approach to his work. Many benefited from this, not least of all this court,” he said.

“Gus Campbell was also a teacher, bringing those skills to the training and encouragement of many young solicitors in his charge. The results of those efforts are to be seen week in and week out in these courts and elsewhere where many practitioners once inspired by Gus go about their work with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Gus is survived by his wife of 37 years Marie, sons Patrick and Colm and daughter Kathleen.



John Darby
November 1940 – June 2012

Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-191John Darby, professor of comparative ethnic studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, died peacefully at home on June 2 in Portstewart, Ireland. He was 71. A funeral mass will take place on Wednesday (June 6) in Portstewart.

Professor Darby was beloved by faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the Kroc Institute, where he began teaching in 1999. An expert in peace processes, John directed the Kroc Institute’s Research Initiative for the Resolution of Ethnic Conflict from 2002-06 and the Peace Accords Matrix since 2004. Prior to joining the Kroc Institute, he taught at the University of Ulster and founded and directed INCORE (Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity), a joint program of the University of Ulster and the United Nations University, Tokyo. Educated at Queens University in Belfast and the University of Ulster, he held visiting positions in Harvard and Duke Universities and served as a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Fulbright New Century Scholars Program. He is the author or editor of 15 books and 120 other academic publications in international conflict and peace processes.

Words of tribute from Kroc Institute director Scott Appleby:
John Darby was a gift to Notre Dame, a wonderful colleague, a distinguished scholar, a genial and encouraging mentor to students, and a good friend to us all. Our love goes out to his family, especially to his wife Marie, our dear friend, and his sons Patrick and Michael.

John dreamed of discovering why peace accords fail so often, and of finding a way to improve their rate of success, as a path to building sustainable peace with justice in war-torn societies, beginning with his native Northern Ireland. He brought his dream to the Kroc Institute, where it flourished.

The Kroc Institute’s Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) database — a tool for scholars and peacebuilders — began as John’s idea, was formally launched in 2011 under his direction, and is being developed by a team of scholars and practitioners at Notre Dame and Uppsala University. Already mediators are applying insights
from John’s project in planning peace accords to end two current wars.

At the Kroc Institute, we will honor John’s legacy by continuing to develop this research project and by redoubling our efforts to educate and train the many students who will inherit his mantle. We will miss him greatly.



John Greer (1953)
29 September 1942 – 20 August 2010

Sandy Hill D_THE SALTY ERA-192Powerful generosity of spirit in convivial expert on rural planning and development.

With the passing of John Greer the planning profession in Ireland has lost one of its most esteemed members – as evidenced by the many university colleagues, practitioners and former students from across the island who attended his funeral.

The eldest child of Jack and Annie Greer of Bridge Street in Portadown, John began his formal education in Presentation Primary School and St Columba’s in the town before transferring to St Patrick’s College in Armagh.
He was awarded a scholarship at the early age of 15 to attend Queen’s University Belfast, from where he graduated with an honours degree in geography in 1963.

Following a period as a research assistant in the Department of Geography with the late Professor Estyn Evans, he joined the Craigavon Development Commission. His appointment over the period 1964 to 1968 brought him into the challenging arena of master plan preparation, population forecasting, commercial development, strategic planning for small communities.

In 1968 he then accepted a lectureship post on the newly established postgraduate course in town and country planning at Queen’s, where he remained until his retirement in 2005. John Greer is specifically recognised for his research and teaching contribution to the field of rural planning and development in Ireland. During his career he penned a rich legacy of scholarly articles on this topic.

His respect within the academic community also made him a popular external examiner for teaching programmes and doctoral candidates across Britain and Ireland, a respect that was acknowledged in equal measure by the planning practice fraternity.

In 1991-92 he held the presidency of the Irish Planning Institute and between 1995 and 1997 he was vicepresident of the European Council of Town Planners.

John Greer, the person, was endowed not only with a keen intellect but also a deep compassion for others. For those who were uncertain, he offered confidence in themselves. For those who were searching, he provided possible solutions. And for those who succeeded, he gave fulsome praise.

Students, friends and colleagues were all touched by that powerful generosity of spirit. Many have benefited directly from his great capacity to network and his firm belief that what is important in life is relationships built on trust and inclusiveness.

Put simply, John knew many people who valued his enduring integrity. Outside the world of work, John Greer was very much a quiet, family man. He enjoyed the experience of travelling over many years with his wife and children across Europe and parts of the US. Medieval towns in Italy, thecaves of the Dordogne and the fishing villages of Catalonia fired his imagination about times past and nurtured an appreciation for a more authentic way of life marked by good food, quality wines and convivial conversation. The power of landscape beauty enthralled him and, in his words, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone “are truly awesome”.

In latter years John rediscovered the delights of his beloved Skibbereen and would link the journey there and back with a search for hidden Ireland, gleaned previously from the daily pages of The Irish Times or morning radio on RTE. John McGahern and Seamus Heaney were his literary companions along the way.

His retirement was all too short but filled with the joy of his grandchildren. John Greer died suddenly on August 18 aged 67 and was buried after funeral Mass at St Paul’s Church, Lurgan.

He is survived by his wife Dymphna and their children Abigail, Blathnaid and Jonathan.




Malachy McGeeney



exa784056It is with much regret that we learned of the passing of Malachy Mc Geeney, former player, handballer, coach to many, administrator at various levels, referee and true Armagh Gael.

A native of Cullyhanna, Malachy was a noted footballer, representing Armagh at minor level, playing in the 1957 Minor Final, and at senior level, playing for five seasons. His studies brought him to Manchester where he joined Shannon Rangers G.A.A team. Competing in the Lanacashire League Malachy gained a place in the county squad, where his scoring prowess helped to collect the British Championship title. He played against a talented Kerry side in the All-Ireland Junior Championship Final at Croke Park and was marked by the great Mick Morris. Malachy scored two goals and two points, but his team was defeated.

Whilst Malachy Mc Geeney was indeed from Cullyhanna and far from shy in acknowledging it, he was singularly identified with the promotion of Gaelic games throughout Armagh for decades. Known throughout the country, it was in his native, beloved, Armagh where he left a true legacy; the countless young athletes who are now playing in their county jersey across all codes..He was introduced to hurling by the late Br O’Sullivan during his time at CBS Greenpark and he instilled that grá for the game in many others. Indeed Malachy’s career in management began with St Michael’s minor hurling side, based in South Armagh, which won the County League and Championship in 1968.

His association with St. Patricks Cullyhanna was long. Malachy’s brother, Seamus was secretary of St Patrick’s so he became a member of the committee. It was but a matter of time beforeMalachy went on to coach the St Patrick squad collecting a “B” Championship and Intermediate title. He also coached the Granemore team which won the County Junior Championship; and the Forkhill side, who became the junior champions in 1981.

Whilst Malachy served as an officer of the County Board, officer of the South Board and indeed officer of Comhairle Uladh it was in his role with CumannnamBunscol that Malachy will be fondly remembered. Malachy gave a lifelong dedication to promoting Gaelic games in primary schools in Armagh, Ulster and nationally.

Malachy was a founder member of the Armagh Primary School League in 1965/6 and its first chairman. In 1982 he was responsible for Armagh joining CumannnamBunscol. At local level Malachy held the following posts: secretary, PRO, Treasurer, Chairperson and was Honorary President.

He was, once more, a founding member of CumannnamBunscolUladh and was its first secretary and acted as skills’ organiser from 1983-87. He later served as Ulster chairperson from 1998-2003 and was delegate to ComhairleUladh from 1999-2009. In 1989 Malachy joined the National Committee as Development Officer (1989-1995) and served the National Committee in the following roles: Vice-Chairperson (1995-2000) and President (2000-2005). Throughout this lengthy period of administration Malachy was heavily involved in all aspects of coaching, refereeing and organisation at local level and was quite often innovative in his approach. He helped organise the mini-sevens in Croke Park for a period of ten years.

Locally Malachy introduced indoor competitions (boys’ and girls’ football, hurling and camogie) and instigated the annual quiz. He introduced Rounders to Armagh schools in 1998 and single-handedly organised a successful all-county Rounders league. Malachy introduced local skill-based competitions which went on to Ulster level; the first Armagh winners being Diarmaid Marsden and OisinMcConville (2002 All Ireland winners). Malachy started handball in Armagh Primary Schools and was National Coordinator from 1991-2005. He refereed these handball competitions at all grades; county, province and national. Malachy introduced regional primary school squads in both boys’ and girls’ football based on developing skills and enjoyment through quality coaching. He was involved with the weekly coaching of the South Armagh squads with his long time friend Denis Hollywood.

Malachy supervised primary school teams in both codes which participated in half-time exhibition games during National League and Championship games. Many of those primary school kids who took part in the half-time games have gone on to represent Armagh at all levels. The present Senior squads have many members who came under Malachy’s tutelage.

During our dark and troubled past Malachy organised trips to Cork and Kerry for primary school football and hurling squads with the late Jim McEvoy, Cork and Jerome Conway, Kerry. Return trips were made by young Cork hurlers. Ballincollig and St. Patrick’s P.S. Crossmaglen have continued this relationship. During this time trips were organised to Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Meath and Fermanagh. The fact that Armagh school competitions were played as normal throughout these troubled years speaks volumes for the nominee.

MalachyMcGeeney remained a loyal supporter of Armagh and rarely missed a game. A member of the now defunct Armagh Supporters Club, he was a generous benefactor to his native county during lean financial times. Above all Malachy was of Armagh. Every Armagh Gael extends sympathy to his wife Mona, son Ciaran, daughter Maria and family circle.


Séamas Ó Bléine (Jim Blaney)

jim-blaneyTrue Gael set dancing with the angels

SÉAMAS Ó Bléine (Jim Blaney) has been described as a true Gael.

A fluent Irish speaker, he embraced and celebrated all of the magnificent aspects of Irish culture – its language, its music, its dance and its rich literary heritage.

One of six children, he was born in Lurgan, Co Armagh to Mary Ellen and William Patrick Blaney. His love of the Irish language was nurtured in the National School in Carrigallen, Co Leitrim. to where Jim and his brother Roger were evacuated during World War Two. The quiet village was the birthplace of their mother.

Jim later studied at St Patrick’s College in Armagh before graduating from Queen’s University Belfast and taking up a post as a teacher – a profession to which he dedicated all of his working life.

That career began at St Joseph’s Christian Brothers School in Hardinge Street in Belfast, and he later spent many years teaching at St Columba’s College in Portaferry, before returning to Lurgan and St Paul’s School.

It was while teaching the children of fishermen in Portaferry that Jim’s love of the sea and maritime life was fostered. It was a life-long fascination and he carried out extensive research on Irish lighthouses and lightships. That interest in Irish history and folklore was borne out by Jim’s involvement in the Upper Ards, Lecale and Dromore Diocesan Historical Societies, for which he wrote articles and delivered many lectures.

Jim Blaney was a bachelor, but to his many nephews and nieces he was a father figure. He was a warm, gentle and unassuming man who enriched their lives immeasurably – instilling in them a sense of identity, a sense of the richness of Irish culture and, above all, a wonderful sense of wry humour.

For visitors to Jim’s Lurgan home two things stood out – the amount of books and journals, and the number of musical instruments throughout the house.

A gifted concertina player, for decades he travelled across Ireland to take part in traditional music sessions.

It was testament to the fondness he invoked in people that musicians from as far away as Co Clare were at his graveside – the beauty of an Irish lament bookending a well-lived Irish life. Jim’s love of dancing was also well-known, and just a few weeks before his death he appeared in the BBC’s True North programme, The Joy of Sets, documenting those who travel far and wide for the love of set dancing. He was still taking part in weekly dance evenings at 81.

Following his death, a great nephew asked: “Do you think God will let Uncle Jim dance in heaven with the Angels?” God and the Angels may not have a choice on that one.

Jim Blaney was born on June 14 1933 and died on December 31 2014. He is survived by his sisters Patsy and Betty and brothers Roger and Donald.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam uasal.


Patrick J Tuite
(21 October 1944 – 10 October 2011)

Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-208WHEN Pat Tuite passed to his eternal reward on the evening of 10 October 2011, the Irish pig industry lost a loyal advocate and firm supporter. For 30 year, Pat served as pig specialist, first with the Specialist Advisory Group in the Department of Agriculture, then with ACOT and fmally with Teagasc before his retirement in 2004.

He had earlier worked in Co Galway, seconded from the Department of Agriculture, to manage the then fledgling pig co-operative movement there through some initial teething problems.

This early experience undoubtedly influenced his deep understanding of the many challenges facing farmers in this most volatile of sectors in agriculture.

He was a very active participant throughout the evolution of pig production from a small farmyard enterprise in the early 1970s to the modern commercial sector of today.

Pat developed a very strong working relationship with pig producers, many of whom became close and lifelong personal friends.

He provided advice and guidance with clarity and precision, always based on having accurate data and information on the issues being addressed.

His deep knowledge and understanding of pig production also meant that Pat was a hugely respected colleague in the pig advisory service to which he devoted nearly all of his working life. He played a central role in the formation and the development of this service.

Born in Tullyallen, Drogheda, Co Louth, he continued to reside there throughout his working career. A very active member of his local community, Pat was chairman of the local Group Water Scheme until his untimely death. His voluntary work in this area also extended to representation
at national level.

Pat had many and varied interests, including gardening, sport, archaeology, local history, current affairs as well as travel. However, Pat was above all else a devoted family man. He will be greatly missed by his wife Breeda, daughters Dyanne, Aoife and Cariona, his son Patrick Kevin, grandsons Luke and Conor, sons-in-law Alan and Joe, by his sisters and brother and a wide circle of relatives and friends.


Harry Mullan
22 April 1946 – 21 May 1999

Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-209Boxing has as many rascals as a well-stocked betting ring. I never met a nicer one than Harry Mullan. Harry died of cancer on Friday, aged 53. But, almost to the end, he ignored the pain as he continued to write with style and unchallenged authority about the grubby game he loved to bits.

He might never have thrown a punch in his life – ping pong was his favoured battlefield – but Harry embodied the pugnacity of the fight business that only those close to it recognise. As the editor of Boxing News for 18 years, it was his duty to upset miscreants as well as celebrate heroics, but, almost without exception, he never made enemies for long. The line-up at his memorial service will testify to that.

Still, as his wife, Jessie, would agree, he could drive his friends to distraction. Behind the wheel, Harry’s otherwise splendid judgment deserted him and getting to a restaurant after a fight was always a whiteknuckle safari. Harry kept his ghost-white goatee perfectly trimmed and occasionally wore a rose in his lapel. Well-rounded, and, when in full bloom, well round, he could exchange interesting views on anything from politics to his other passions, music, literature and wine. But Harry only ever wrote about boxing.

‘I’d feel fraudulent writing on anything else,’ he said after falling out with the proprietors of Boxing News. So the Sunday Times, the Independent on Sunday, Boxing Monthly and Sport First benefited from his thoughtful contributions, as did readers of his several books.

As his illness worsened, Harry got a Zimmer frame. When he covered the title fight between Joe Calzaghe and Robin Reid in Newcastle a few months ago, one could only marvel at his courage in shuffling to ringside. ‘It keeps me going,’ he said, aware the journey was nearly over. Indeed, it would be his last fight. That night, he pulled out a little bag of marijuana and asked me to roll a joint for him. It eased the pain – well, that was Harry’s story; a goodish Catholic from Portstewart near Derry, he embraced sin with channing clumsiness.

Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-210His real convictions, though, were set in stone. Harry said he did not want to be a member, of the Boxing Writers Club because they refused to admit women to their annual dinner. I suspect it was because he did not want the chairmanship, which rotates, and so avoided giving the loyal toast. He was no fan of the House of Windsor. He will be buried in Ireland.

Harry’s last assignment was to have, been at Madison Square Garden for the heavyweight showdown between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, but it was perhaps as well he missed that shambles. He’d seen enough shenanigans. Started a few as well, bless him.

Kevin Mitchell


Hugh McCormick
1943 – 1999


  • Born in Dublin 1943.
  • Educated at St Columb’s, Derry and St. Patricks, Armagh.
  • Studied painting 1960-1964 Belfast College of Art.
  • Studied at Hornsey College of Art, London 1964-1965.
  • Head of Art Department, St. Malachy’s College, Belfast 1971-1975.
  • Public murals for Belfast Education Authority 1960s-70s.
  • Design and painting of stage settings for various Ulster theatre groups, The Lyric Theatre and Queens University.
  • Ran Dingle Summer School, painting courses from 1969-1973.

Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-219

  • Head of the Department of Art and Design at Regional Technical College, Galway (GMIT) 1976-1997.
  • Co-founder of the Claremorris Arts Committee & “Claremorris Open Exhibition” 1978.
  • Chief Examiner in National Diploma in Art for the National Council of Educational Awards from 1983.
  • 1993-1994 Artist in residence at Whitireia Polytechnic, Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • 6 one-man exhibitions at the Kenny Gallery, Galway 1979-1997.
  • Various one-man exhibitions in London, St. Albans, Belfast, Armagh, Longford, Cork, Claremorris and Tuam.
  • Work held in various collections in Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States.
  • Died on 12th February 1999. “Now never mind the rest of them, you are a painter…
  • his teacher had told him, “You have it McCormick, he said, you have it… as he transfixed the mass of a Belfast bap”With thanks to Paul McAvinchey


Dr. James McVeigh
19 September 1942 – 17 April 1999

Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-212A widely respected consultant radiologist at the Erne Hospital, Enniskillen, Dr. James McVeigh, of Springfield, died unexpectedly on Saturday, April 17, 1999, aged 56.

James, who was affectionately known as Jim, failed to recover from a recent stroke. A native of Larne, he was a son of a G.P., Vincent McVeigh and his wife, Alice. The eldest in a family of six his father died when he was 17. Jim was educated at St. Patrick’s College in Armagh and went on to study economics at Queen’s University.

He worked in an electronics firm in Lame where he remained for a time, prior to working -in the motor industry in England. Having decided to study medicine, Jim went to Trinity College, Dublin, around 1966. He did his medical course in Trinity
and loved his time in Dublin. Jim did his house jobs in the Royal City of Dublin Hospital in Baggot Street, where he spent two years. It was in Dublin that Jim met Julia, who was also in Baggot Street. They married, and he did Radiology in Hammersmith Hospital in London. The couple spent five years in London, where their first two children were born. In 1979 Jim went to Letterkenny General Hospital where he became the consultant radiologist. He remained there for three and a half years and in 1983 became a permanent radiologist at the Erne Hospital and the Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh. Described as an excellent radiologist, he is said to have revolutionised, the two departments. A man, with a very generous spirit, he appreciated people and is remembered as a wonderful conversationalist. His colleague, Dr. John Williams recalls that Jim generated a lot of love and affection which was reflected at his funeral. The consultant radiologist, who was a much loved figure, was due to retire from his career.

During his time at the Erne Hospital, Jim had been joined by a second radiologist, the late Dr. Kathleen Cassidy from Ederney. The present consultant radiologists are Dr. John McGregor and Dr. Gareth Loughrey. Dr. Williams praised the work of the radiology department and he described Jim as a fine radiologist. “His service to the Sperrin Lakeland Trust Board was outstanding,” said Dr. Williams. He recalled that about 11 years ago Dr. McVeigh suffered a heart attack and made a good recovery. In 1994, he had a stroke but he battled very bravely against it. He made a good recovery and came back to work.

This most recent stroke came as a major shock to his family, colleagues and friends. “We will all miss him very much,” commented Dr. Williams. Dr. McVeigh and his wife, Dr. Julia Groves-Raines, a G.P. in Derrygonnelly, have four children, Tory, Cassie, Jimmy, and Nikki. A dedicated husband and father, Jim enjoyed a number of leisure interests including reading, boating, motor cars, and the countryside. He enjoyed visits to a cottage in Donegal, while he also enjoyed cruising on Lough Erne.

His funeral service at Inishmacsaint Parish Church, which was widely attended, was led by the Rev. Mark Jones. A tribute was paid by Dr. John Williams and there was participation by a friend of the family, Dean Leslie Forrest from Co. Wexford. Burial followed in the adjoining churchyard.

Jim is survived by his wife, Julia; and children: Tory; Cassie; Jimmy; and Nikki.

Tribute has also been paid to Dr. McVeigh during a meeting of Sperrin Lakeland Health and Social Care Trust.

The Chairman, Mr. Richard Scott said that it was with “great sadness” that they learned of the death on April 17 of Dr. McVeigh. “Dr. McVeigh had been a consultant radiologist at the Erne Hospital for the past 16 years, and was held in high esteem at the Erne Hospital, across the Trust, and Western Area, and indeed by all who knew him.” commented Mr. Scott, who passed his personal condolence and those of the Trust Board members to Dr. McVeigh’s wife, Dr. Julia Groves-Raines and family.


Victor Quinn
September 29, 1942 – June 23, 1997

Sandy Hill E_CREME DE LA CREME-213Victor Quinn, who has died aged 54, was a philosopher, educator, a gifted teacher, and an international figure in the development of critical thinking in young children. He made no concessions to age, forcing children to defend their views and to confront flaws in their arguments on an unending flow of moral and social issues.

In his early career he was a meticulous critic of conventional educational philosophy. His forensic analysis of texts made him a relentless opponent. His passion was clarity, in thought and in moral values.

Victor never confused quality of intelligence with age or experience, and was passionately convinced of the need for all children to develop disciplines of reason and argument. He saw the need for this growing as contemporary culture made increasingly competitive claims on children’s values and beliefs.

A few weeks before his death, his Critical Thinking in Young Minds, an innovative work in educational theory was published. It is also a highly practical book he was committed to moving children’s thinking beyond the pressures of cultural clichés. “I want to interrupt the tabloid culture,” he wrote. “I want children to see the hypocrisy and contradictions that are endemic features of moral and political persuaders, I want them to be able to stand up to authority figures, with a respect for reason and argument in which all are invited to share.”

Victor Quinn was the seventh of nine children of a south Armagh family. He went from boarding school to Maynooth to train as a priest, but after a year he transferred to University College, Dublin, where he read philosophy. He became secretary of the James Joyce Society and won the Hutchinson-Stuart Literary Award.

He became a primary school teacher in Newham and after three years took up a teacher-training post at the Yorkshire arts and education college, Bretton Hall, where he spent the rest of his career, training teachers and children in practical philosophy.

I studied with Victor in the early 1970s. He was a memorable and inspiring teacher, impressing me deeply with his passion for argument and for his exacting disciplines of analysis. He had an impish humour and would buckle with delight at a sharp observation.

One of the great pleasures of being his student was his roars of laughter at a sudden joke or a turn of argument he hadn’t anticipated.

Philosophy was always a challenge, a discipline and a delight. He brought the same rigour and pleasure to his work with children, and they responded in kind.

His teaching techniques made increasing use of role play. Often taking antagonistic roles in argument, he provoked primary children into impassioned moral debates. Latterly his work attracted growing media attention, partly because of the mounting public interest in education about values and partly because of the nature and success or his methods.

Victor’s teaching and theories enriched the lives of many children, students and teachers. He published regularly and was I in worldwide demand at professional conferences.

Throughout it all he maintained his own childlike pleasure in new ideas, in wit, humour and life itself. A number of videos were made of his work and they survive to inspire us, and sustain the debates he loved to ignite. He leaves five children: three from his first marriage to Noirin, and two-year-old twins from his second marriage to Trisha.

Ken Robinson


Pat Kernan 1944-2015

pat-kernan-150x150INTERVIEWED by the school magazine on his retirement, Padraig Mac Thiarnain said he would like to be remembered as someone who was fair, did his job and didn’t take himself too seriously.

Asked for any advice for pupils as he moved on, he said: “The secret to life is love. It sounds corny but when you have your health, the most important thing in life is to love and to be loved. “A strong faith helps. After that everything falls into place.”

Faith, a love of family, a passion for Irish culture and an unquenchable thirst for life defined Padraig Mac Thiarnain. The Irish teacher and activist instilled a gra for the native tongue in generations of young people. A gentleman with time for everyone, his drive to live each hour to the full – even during an eight-year battle with cancer – also left a lasting impression on all who encountered him. Padraig was born Pat Kernan in 1944 to Bridget and Joseph Kernan of Crossmaglen, with his mother tragically dying days after his birth. His father later married Joan, who Pat knew as Mum, and he was very fond of his four siblings, Olivia, Annette, Joe and Raymond. Pat would have a great love of GAA, closely following his nephews’ success with Crossmaglen, and he was particularly proud of his brother Joe, the All-Ireland winning Armagh manager.. The family were touched when a minute’s silence was held before the county’s game with Galway last weekend. Pat developed his love of Irish while studying Celtic language and literature at Queen’s University Belfast.

He qualified as a teacher and spent two years at St Thomas’ School on Belfast’s Whiterock Road – following the footsteps of the great Seamus Heaney and Michael McLaverty – before beginning a long association with St Patrick’s College, Knock. As vice-principal from 1977 until his retirement in 2004 he was in charge of discipline and treated pupils fairly and equally, as well as providing a calming presence through the chaos of the early Troubles. His Irish language activities increased, taking charge of Loch an lair Gaeltacht college, co-founding the Lecale Gaelic Society, sitting on exam committees and writing regular pieces for The Irish News. He organised the cultural festival Gaeltionail in Downpatrick and was a co-founder of the town’s naiscoil and bunscoil. Pat also continued teaching Irish classes each Monday despite cancer treatment, right up until two weeks before his death.

He would arrive early so people would not see that he could barely walk, and enlarged the text to compensate for growing sight problems. It was a job he loved, and he threw himself into it wholeheartedly. Pat and wife Sheelagh, who he met at Queen’s, had moved to Downpatrick to escape the violence of Belfast and they had a far-reaching influence on the community. They brought up their family speaking Irish, and many others in the town would say they first attended beginner’s classes because they heard the language spoken on the streets. The couple were big cinema fans, going out every Tuesday without fail for a meal and movie, followed usually by a stop at Paddy’s Barn for some traditional music. They both also made full use of their teacher’s holidays, spending six weeks every summer travelling around France with a caravan as well as trips as far afield as Russia. In the last year Pat had been abroad seven times. However, he always considered his greatest achievement to be his five children and 12 grandchildren. He was a rock to them throughout their lives, and they were all with him when he passed away last Wednesday aged 71. Pddraig Mac Thiarnain is sadly missed by his wife of 47 years Sheelagh, children Siobhan, Colm, Cormac, Art and Ronan, and wider family circle.


Michael McGeary
May 01, 1947 – January 23, 2016


michael-mcgeary-photoWHEN the news spread, as it did like wildfire, on Saturday morning, that Micheal McGeary had died the mood was one of total shock and disbelief.

For those who didn’t know that he had been seriously ill, for a short period, the news was difficult to comprehend but, sadly, it was true.

Maghery man Micheal was only in hospital for a few weeks, following an accident, before the sudden end came to stun all who knew him and even those who had only a brief acquaintance with him. He was a widely respected sports journalist with his main code being GAA.

However, he also covered rugby, boxing and golf and was just as popular with followers of those sports as with GAA fans, during his years with The Irish News, Sunday Life and Belfast Telegraph. He also did some work for RTE.

I knew Micheal before he ‘ became a journalist. He was secretary of the Maghery GAA Club and in that capacity I often had cause to contact him. Then, as always, he was a pleasure to deal with. He was one of the most helpful and decent people I ever knew as a friend and colleague. It is true to say that he was one of a kind. Like the rest of us, he had his idiosyncrasies and he shared with former Meath footballer and referee Peter McDermott the title of the ‘Man with the Cap’. He was rarely seen without his cap, which he kept in the pocket of his gabardine coat.

Micheal never got flustered. He took life in his stride and he was fun to be with in and out of work.

I remember a time when he, for The Irish News, and I, for other newspapers, travelled to Spain for the Ulster final of the now defunct Carlsberg GUI Inter-club final between Shandon Park and Castlerock. We shared a room and the craic was good.

At the same time, we were also among the selectors of the GAA Allstar teams and he argued his point forcefully on behalf of Ulster players.

Micheal joined the Ulster GAA Writers’ Association at its birth in May 1988 and remained a faithful and hard-working member until his death. He served as vice-chairman for a number of years and also served on some of the Association’s sub committees, never failing to drive home his point.

If something didn’t please Micheal he didn’t shout about it. He made his point in a constructive and calm manner and, usually, got his reasoning across. He was that type of person. Cool, calm and collected.

However, he took his sport seriously and, above all, he was an ardent Armagh supporter, naturally.

Undoubtedly, very high up among the highlights of his life was when Armagh won the All-Ireland Senior and Minor Football Championship titles but he also was appreciative of the efforts of others, both in his writings and his speech.

We all have lost a great colleague but his wife Olive and his daughters Olive, Susan and Sarah have lost a lot more. All people who knew him certainly offer deepest sympathy to them and the entire family circle.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam naofa.
Tony McGee – The Irish News 25th January 2016