Lives Remembered

Mickey Gilfedder: Skilled digger driver, gifted handyman, hardy footballer and Belleek legend

Mickey Gilfedder, from Belleek, Co Fermamagh, died aged 61

IF there are tractors in Heaven then Mickey Gilfedder will be leading the charge at full throttle, a cigarette hanging coolly from the lips, with thick rich side locks, and two dark eyes dancing with devilment.

Mickey, who loved tractors and all sorts of machinery and the great outdoors, passed away after a brave battle with illness on January 10.

He was just 61 and lived for many years in Davog Drive in Belleek, Co Fermanagh with his wife Ann and children Laura and Peter.

Mickey was one of a family of 10, who was born in Mulleek before the family moved to the Commons, Belleek.

From an early age he loved working outdoors and he became a skilled digger driver with Gallagher Keown and Timoney where he was recalled as a man of immense physical strength, in ruddy great health and with the ability to defuse an awkward moment in a heartbeat with a witty quip.

Mickey was a gifted handyman and could turn his skills to almost anything, from fixing a tractor, to cutting sticks and mowing hedges and lawns.

He worked as a caretaker in St Davog's Primary School where he was a particular favourite with the children and was held in the highest esteem by the staff.

He was also a legendary, hardy footballer and hurler with Erne Gaels who really came alive in the heat of battle.

Mickey was part of the Erne Gaels panel that won a Fermanagh senior football championship in 1979 and he also held a few county hurling medals.

He was also a very good dart thrower and was one of the main men for Rooney's bar back in the 1980s.

In recent years, despite illness, Mickey helped to organize a very successful tractor run in aid of cancer groups.

His neighbours will remember a warm, witty man who could smile despite great sadness and was always willing to help others.

Even though he was given a heavy cross to carry with illness, he never lost his faith or fortitude and will be sadly missed in Davog Drive, in the wider Belleek area and in south Donegal where he was also very well known.

The guard of honour from Erne Gaels and St Davog's at his funeral was fitting for one of Belleek's own legends, but if there was a guard from everyone that enjoyed Mickey's company in various settings, it would be hard for Belleek to hold them all.

Mickey Gilfedder is survived by Ann, Laura and Peter, his sisters Maisie, Tessie, Kathleen and Geraldine, and brothers Seamus, Eamon and Gerry.

He was predeceased by his brother Patsy, sister Anna and parents John and Winnie.

May he rest in peace.

Gerry McLaughlin

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