Joe Walsh: Co Down architect was life and soul of any party
JOE Walsh, who died the day after his 52nd birthday, was always the life and soul of any party.
A fantastic entertainer, he enjoyed nothing more than to arrange special nights for family where he would entertain with Mr & Mrs and Blind Date competitions or This is Your Life surprises.
Nights would always end with the guitar being brought out and everyone joining in the singing.
The Killyleagh man also had a terrific sense of humour and would love to play pranks on his siblings and friends.
He touched the lives of many people and his death leaves a huge gap in his family circle and the local community.
Joe was one of 10 children born to Margaret Walsh (née Furey) and the late Gerry Walsh, who had a taxi service in Killyeagh.
His mother came from Donegal and the family would spend their summers at the homestead, milking cows, stacking turf and building hay stacks – with the odd frog put down your back by Joe, of course.
Joe was designing from a young age - when free from farm duties he would build huts from wind bushes and rushes for games of Cowboys and Indians.
And after school at St Mary’s PS, Killyleagh and St Colmcille’s High in Crossgar, he completed a degree in architecture at the University of Greenwich.
Joe returned home to work for McVeigh Brown Architects and then WDR & RT Taggart in Belfast, but continued to travel weekly at his own expense to Greenwich to complete his RIBA Examination in Architecture.
He married Joanna McKibbin from Ballycoulter in 1996 and they had two daughters, Jana and Judy, who have both been blessed with their dad's singing talents.
The family moved to Australia in 2010 where Joe worked for Bruce McClean Architects in Perth before holding the position of national architect with Automotive Holdings Group, a job that saw him travel to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Port Hedland, Karratha, Newman and various other parts of the world.
In 2014 he returned home to his private architecture practice in Killyleagh, and designed his own home opposite the gates of Delamont Country Park, moving in this year.
Other local projects including the ‘Lodge’ for Castlewellan Regeneration Ltd.
In his younger days Joe played many sports for clubs in the Killyleagh area. He loved skiing, cycling, badminton and sailing, and was a member of a boxing club in Australia.
He was an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion with Our Lady of Mercy Church, Perth, and a member of the Killyleagh Development Association.
He also made a decision to join Downpatrick Scouts last year, but illness deprived the group of his expertise, knowledge and wisdom.
Joe Walsh died peacefully at his home on August 11.
In addition to his wife, children and mother, he is survived by his brothers Gerard and Ignatius, sisters Anne, Claire, Cecelia, Veronica, Paula and Susan and family circle. He was predeceased by his father Gerry and sister Kate.