Northern Ireland news

'King of Strabane' Pat Gillespie was an inspiration to all, mourners told

Pat Gillespie's coffin was carried from his home to Sacred Heart Church in Strabane. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

CO Tyrone centenarian Pat Gillespie, who became known as the “king” of his native Strabane, was an inspiration to all, mourners at his funeral were told.

The former UK Pensioner of the Year, who gained media fame for his varied interests and youthful outlook on life, died last Saturday at the age of 102.

A frequent sight on his motorised scooter around Strabane, Mr Gillespie displayed his collection of cars and bicycles, some of which he made himself, in a museum at his home as well as photographs of the many celebrities he encountered along the way.

He was also leader of the annual St Patrick’s Day parade in the town.

The funeral of Pat Gillespie in Strabane, Co-Tyrone on Tuesday. Pat who died aged 102 was famous for his talents as whacky inventor and sportsman. He was affectionately known as the King of Strabane. Pat was buried following funeral mass at Sacred Heart Chapel in Strabane. Pictured is Pat's little motor-cycle which he was still riding around the town until days before his death. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 27-8-2019.

In 2017, at the age of 100, Mr Gillespie was held up at his Railway Street home but despite being tied to a chair by masked men, he refused to allow the traumatic experience impede his active life.

As his coffin was carried into the Church of the Sacred Heart in Strabane for Requiem Mass yesterday, the cortege was led by his grandson Aidan who played bagpipes.

Mourners were told Mr Gillespie refused to yield to old age.

Fr Gerry Sweeney recalled his love of table-tennis and speedboat racing as well as his many inventions, including a bicycle made out of a bed.

The funeral of Pat Gillespie in Strabane, Co-Tyrone on Tuesday. Pat who died aged 102 was famous for his talents as whacky inventor and sportsman. He was affectionately known as the King of Strabane. Pat was buried following funeral mass at Sacred Heart Chapel in Strabane. Pictured is Pat's little motor-cycle which he was still riding around the town until days before his death. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 27-8-2019.

He said he did “extraordinary things extraordinarily well” and left a tremendous legacy, not just for his wife Eileen and family, but for the whole community.

“There would be a bright spark and a flash of inspiration when Pat would do something a little bit different,” he said.

Following Requiem Mass, Mr Gillespie was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

Strabane, Co-Tyrone Pat Gillespie who has died aged 102. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line / File picture taken October 2017.

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