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LOCAL LEGEND ‘A FRIEND TO MANY’

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

LOCAL LEGEND ‘A FRIEND TO MANY’ thumbnailSouth Down SDLP Assembly member, Sinead Bradley paid tribute to Patsy McPolin, describing him as a volunteer ‘par excellence’.

TOUCHING tributes have been paid to local legend Patsy McPolin, who passed away late last week.

The Barnmeen man was well known in GAA, charity and music circles, having made many long-lasting friends in both a personal and professional capacity.

A stalwart of Drumgath GAC, Patsy was a familiar face at all matches and remained an active member of the club until his 80th birthday, in July of this year.

He passed away peacefully last Thursday (3 November) after a short illness, with his funeral taking place at St Colman's Church, Barnmeen on Sunday (6 November).

Mourners at the funeral heard Fr Tom McAteer describe Patsy as "a friend to many" and an "outgoing man who always wanted to help others".

He met his wife, Joan in 1960 at a dance in St Patrick's Hall, Banbridge and they married in 1963. They went on to have five children - Martin, Yvonne, Brenda, Arlene and Patrice.

Shortly after their marriage they moved to Barnmeen and it was here he took on a central role in the local community. He was one of the founding members of Drumgath Accordion Band and spent so much time at Drumgath GAC's ground, it was referred to as his second home.

South Down SDLP Assembly member, Sinead Bradley paid tribute to Patsy McPolin, describing him as a volunteer 'par excellence'.

Ms Bradley said: "Patsy McPolin was a household name throughout Co Down."

Patsy, who was brought up in Annaclone, was also a familiar face to those further afield thanks to his work in country music and with concert promoter Sean Wallace, for some 17 years.

“He did the door for me at various concerts and dances right throughout Northern Ireland, we did all the theatres in the province. He was as well known in Ballymena as he was in Banbridge," said Sean.

"He lived for it, he was on first-name terms with all the artists, he knew them all right up to Daniel O'Donnell and the younger ones, like Nathan and Lisa. He had a great relationship with them all and they all helped him in his fundraising efforts at all the concerts and dances."

Sean and Patsy became friends when Patsy worked at the Angler's Rest and Sean said he came to help him at his events and stayed with him all those years.

“We never had a bad word between us, there were never any difficulties. It was all done in great humour and it was a great relationship.

“He was a good-natured person and always willing to help, but the hospice was his first choice. Country music has lost a good friend and a big fan and I have lost a great friend."

South Down SDLP Assembly member, Sinead Bradley also paid tribute to Patsy McPolin, describing as a volunteer 'par excellence'.

Ms Bradley said: "Patsy McPolin was a household name throughout Co. Down. He played a very significant role in the development of the institutions that he chose to identify with. He was to the fore ever since the Drumgath GAA Club was founded, he was a devoted promoter of the Drumgath Marching Band, he was a key on the ground worker for the SDLP and he was closely involved with matters pertaining to St Colman's Church, Barnmeen whilst also a committed and successful fundfaiser for the local hospice.

“Patsy was a willing and conscientious worker that somehow found time to support causes that he believed in. He always gave a 100 per cent commitment he was a volunteer 'par excellence'.

“As an SDLP representative I can confirm that the name Patsy McPolin has been identified with successful SDLP campaigns down the years and he was one of those whose work on behalf of the Social Democratic and Labour Party eventually led in June 1987 to the late Eddie McGrady capturing the Westminster seat for the first time.

“Since the foundation of the SDLP, Patsy played an active role in practically every local SDLP success story since then, including Assembly Elections and elections of councillors to the local authorities."

A spokesperson for Drumgath GAC said: "Patsy devoted his life to Drumgath to which we will be forever grateful.

“It would have be a rare occasion to visit Drumgath when Patsy would not have been seen (or heard) and I can only imagine there will be less O'Neills about the place, as he would always make sure there was more came in than went out.

A true 'club man', he will be forever missed."

However, another major focus in his life was his charity work and he dedicated years to raising money for the Southern Area Hospice.

He volunteered with the hospice from 1996 and in his role as a fundraiser, he raised over £130,000 for the charity so close to his heart.

A spokesperson for the hospice said they were saddened to hear of Patsy's passing.

“He was a valued member of the volunteering team on lots of our campaigns including the Mini car raffle, church collections and was an active member of the Drumgath Support Group for the hospice.

“It was with great sadness that the Southern Area Hospice learnt of the death of Patsy. He has been a great supporter and friend of the hospice over a long number of years, both in his role as volunteer and fundraiser.

“We extend our sympathy to his wife, Joan and the entire McPolin family, who are in our thoughts at this sad time."

Patsy is survived by his wife Joan, son Martin, daughters Yvonne, Brenda, Arlene and Patrice, grandchildren Miceal, Danielle and Leanne-Rose, great grandchildren, his brother Brendan, sister-in-law, brothers-in-law, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, nephews and nieces.

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