Harry McEvoy: 'Wee Harry' was dedicated teacher and passionate Gael
WHAT Harry McEvoy lacked in physical stature, he more than made up for in heart and mind.
“Wee Harry” was a loving husband, a devoted father, a caring Granda, a dedicated teacher and a hard-working stalwart of his community, county and country.
Honest, reliable and trustworthy in all that he did, he also had a great sense of humour.
He was a gentle man who was held in high esteem by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Harry was born in Drumaness, Co Down to parents Patrick & Mary Ann in 1930 and attended Christ the King Primary School along with his sisters Lily and May and brother Gerry.
It would also be there that he would spend his entire teaching career, including 25 years as principal.
At the age of 12 Harry was awarded a scholarship to attend St Colman's College in Newry and it was while at Violet Hill that he realised he had a calling to the priesthood.
He spent five years studying at St Columban's College, Dalgan Park, Navan, intending to work on the missions in the Far East.
However, in 1954 he decided that the priesthood was not for him and so he headed back north to St Joseph's teacher training college.
Harry met Gretta Crowe from Galway after a football match in Dublin in 1961. Daily letters and weekly phone calls ensued.
They married in 1963, settled in Carryduff a year later, and there raised their children Joe, Marie, Bríd, Seán and David, who in turn gave them 11 grandchildren.
Harry was a natural organiser and a tireless worker in the community. On his return to Drumaness he helped found a St Vincent de Paul conference, becoming its first president. He repeated the same feat upon moving to Carryduff.
It was the GAA, however, that became his passion.
He helped form Drumaness GAC, Carryduff GAC and was an advisor in the formation of Bredagh GAC.
He was also instrumental in bringing the Irish culture competitions Scór and Scór na Nóg to Ulster.
Over the years and right up until he was in his 80s, Harry held so many positions in the GAA that they are impossible to list.
He was at different times chairperson, secretary and treasurer of Carryduff GAC, chairperson and treasurer of the Down County Board, Down representative on the Ulster Council, chairperson and secretary of the Ulster Scór Committee, Ulster representative on the Central Scór Committee at Croke Park, and chairperson of the East Down Board – a role he held for 25 years.
But Harry was so self-effacing that more often than not his family and friends were not informed of his latest role.
He was honoured at county, Ulster and All Ireland Scór, was the first recipient of the Carryduff Hall of Fame Award, and received the GAA President's Award for services to culture.
A fall at the Ulster Scór finals in 2000 resulted in serious knee damage. Numerous operations curbed Harry's mobility and Gretta found herself being a taxi driver for meetings in Newry, Monaghan, Dublin and further afield before he realised it was time to hand over the batons.
Harry and Gretta were blessed with a long and happy life together. They shared over 25 years of retirement and in that time were rarely seen apart.
They were active members of the close parish community of Carryduff where they attended Mass most mornings.
They enjoyed regular trips to Galway to see Gretta's family and travelled throughout Europe, America, and the Middle East.
They also made regular visits to Dalgan where Harry was, as you may have guessed, secretary of the Past Pupils Association for over 50 years.
Harry enjoyed good health right up until he was diagnosed with cancer in late November.
He died suddenly just three weeks later on December 16 in the arms of his beloved Gretta.
May his gentle soul rest in peace.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.