Lives Remembered

Terry Kelly: Omagh's first punk lived every day of life to the full

Omagh man Terry Kelly shared his love of music and cinema with his many friends

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AS the first punk in Omagh, Terry Kelly wore a dog collar, safety pins and leather trousers - and spiked his hair just like Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious.

He was on a mission to change the town's music scene with his band Strait-Jacket, and he showed all the signs of turning the establishment upside down, all on his own - well, he tried!

Terry's love of music was broad and his teenage years were shaped by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Roxy Music. He travelled to many major rock concerts and festivals to see his idols.

His home was also a meeting point for friends where he would play endless records and show screenings of blockbuster movies on 'Super 8' cine film.

Terry had all the technology in his room - strobe lights, surround sound speakers, widescreen television and video, all back in 1979. Nobody else had it.

He had many, many friends, and they experienced his presence in many ways. He was a joker, a great listener, and he was a sensitive, caring and loving man.

He lived every day to the full and reached out to everyone during his life.

Growing up in O'Kane Park in Omagh, Terry was the youngest of four boys and three girls and was blessed with caring and understanding parents.

As a boy he enjoyed Subbuteo, Top of the Pops and Crackerjack. Not many lads had a Blue Peter badge, but Terry had one and none other than John Noakes' autograph too.

He excelled in art at Omagh CBS and started work with his brother Barney in his car components shop in Jail Square and Abbey Street.

He dearly loved his children Ryan and Zowie and also enjoyed the simple pleasures of visits from his many nieces and nephews.

Although he was lucky to have had a healthy life, Terry was diagnosed with cancer in January 2016.

Throughout his illness he remained positive even when the news wasn't good, making extensive plans for his 'bucket list'.

While in Belfast City Hospital he would break the long days by visiting the HMV store in the city centre to catch up on the latest releases.

During his nine-week spell in Tyrone County Hospital's palliative care ward he was also an inspiration to staff, visitors and patients, giving them comfort and hope with his kind words.

The nurses even took the time to put gel in his hair, in true punk spirit.

Terry seldom went to church but in his actions he was a true Christian.

He faced death bravely and was at peace with his family and friends as he slipped away aged 59 on June 7.

If Terry could talk to us once more he would say, in the words of The Divine Comedy song Tonight We Fly, 'If heaven doesn't exist, what would we have missed. This life is the best we've ever had.'

We will miss him so much.

Tony McGartland

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Lives Remembered