Jimmy McLaughlin: Glenullin man was community leader, environmentalist and one of life's great conversationalists
JIMMY McLaughlin was a builder, a community leader and one of life’s great conversationalists.
He was also a Glenullin man through and through. His heart lay in the wildlife and soft rolling land of Co Derry but more than anything else, it lay with the people of his home place.
The huge outpouring of grief after Jimmy, who was in his eighties, passed away peacefully on August 30 was ample evidence, if it was needed, of the esteem in which he was held.
A master builder and stone mason by trade, Jimmy was known as a teller of stories, a geographer, and an environmentalist.
As chairman of the Glenullin and Agivey Conservation Group, he helped create a respect for the environment among children through his many school visits.
Once a year he organised a walking festival, drawing people from all over who headed for Glenullin to hear Jimmy’s yarns as much as to enjoy the wildlife walks.
His friend John Dallat recalled a man who had that special ability to connect with people of all generations, even if decades separated them.
Those generations are grateful for the wisdom he passed on and the fact that Glenullin remains a place where nature and environment are paramount because of Jimmy’s efforts.
“His family is broken hearted but so too are many other who had the privilege of knowing this person who looked up to no-one but didn’t look down on anyone either,” he said.
John also recalled a true socialist. While Jimmy’s ideals might not have resonated with all, that didn’t worry him and was part of why he was respected and admired so much.
“Jimmy took time to stand and stare and appreciate nature and its wonders. His love of wildlife and indeed his domesticated hens and geese, his dog and cat were all part of a beautiful life which was celebrated at his Requiem Mass in St Joseph’s Church, Glenullin," he said.
“A huge crowd of people turned out to pay their respects and record their appreciation of the extraordinary life of an ordinary man who always put so much more in than he took out."
In the lonely days ahead, as they try to come to terms with the fact that Jimmy’s gone, his legacy will be a comfort to his sons Angelo and Declan, his daughters, Maeve, Aine and Maire, and all those who mourn his passing.