Lives Remembered

Felix Darragh: 'Mirthquake' from Craigavon was an inspiration to family and friends

Felix Darragh made immense contributions to the lives of young people in Craigavon

Sometime before he died, Felix Darragh asked a good friend who sang in St Anthony's parish choir in Craigavon if she was still taking specialist voice training lessons.

Delighted with his interest, she replied that she was.

"Good", he said, "keep taking them, if you're expecting to sing at my funeral!"

It was a good example of the mischievous and affectionate sense of humour displayed by the 'mirthquake' that was Felix.

In his last weeks in hospice care and in Craigavon Area Hospital, where he was very well cared for, his humour, resilience and faith all sustained him in first fighting and then accepting his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

He died aged 66 on May 19 and is much missed by his family and many friends and colleagues, but continues to be an inspiration to them.

While he had lived in Craigavon for over 40 years, Felix was a proud Antrim and Belfast man, always supporting the saffron jersey throughout his life.

He was born in 1951 to John and Lily Darragh and lived with his brother Johnny and sisters Gemma and Elaine off the Falls Road in Ormond Street, later moving to Lenadoon.

His dad died when he was only 15, while his mum lived until 1994.

Alongside his schooling in St Peter's Primary School and Harding Street Christian Brothers', Felix was a valued member of the St Peter's unit of the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland, and later the Knights of Malta.

He enjoyed doing casual bar work as a young man but would spend 26 years with the Ordnance Survey agency, based initially in Belfast and then Newry, before settling finally in Craigavon.

Felix mapped many areas in the course of his work and this, allied to an almost photographic memory, left him with an intimate knowledge of places and people throughout Northern Ireland.

He moved to Craigavon after marrying his beloved wife Georgina (nee Hogg) in 1976 and they raised a family of three children in Clonmeen, later moving to a beautiful bungalow in Bleary.

His contributions to the 'new city', to Moyraverty Parish and to Lismore Comprehensive School were immense.

Felix was one of the first scout leaders in the 7th Dromore unit of the CBSI and many young people benefited from his education in the school of life, particularly on the many camps he organised.

He contributed in numerous ways over the years to the development and welfare of the churches and parish halls of St Anthony's, Moyraverty and St John's, Lylo, and one of the proudest moments for the entire family came in 2012 when he was awarded the Benemerenti medal by Bishop John McAreavey at a Mass to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Lismore school.

Felix served as chairman, vice-chairman and a member of the board of governors for many years and was unfailingly generous with his time and talent, overseeing many major developments in the school's life.

His knowledge of the local area and its young people, allied to his empathetic and caring nature, made him a valuable asset and a popular source of support to pupils, staff and parents alike.

Felix was a highly sociable man and frequently held court where he would entertain his many friends with hilarious tales of his early adventures in Belfast.

He loved music and had a wide range of favourites from Herman's Hermits to Christy Hennessy and Eddie Reader.

But the great love of Felix Darragh's life was, of course, his family. He was utterly devoted to his wife Georgina, his children Anne, John, and Paul, his son-in-law Eamonn, daughter-in-law Louise, and his grandchildren Lily and Blathnaid, and was so excited by the impending birth of a first grandson, Malachy Felix, whom, sadly, he did not live to welcome to this world.

Rest in peace, big man.

Joe Corrigan

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