Northern Ireland news

Tributes to well-known newspaper journalist who passed away at the age of 83

Tributes have been paid to well-known newspaper journalist, Eddie McIlwaine, who passed away on Tuesday

EDDIE McIlwaine has been described as "a giant of a journalist and a gem of a man" following his death on Tuesday at the age of 83.

One of Northern Ireland's longest standing journalists, he had been a newspaper reporter for more than 60 years.

He died at his home in Antrim earlier this week following a battle with cancer.

Mr McIlwaine began his career in the East Antrim Times in Larne in 1955.

Two years later, he moved to Belfast where he covered the trial of Robert McGladdery who was hanged for the murder of Pearl Gamble in Newry.

After a spell at the Belfast Telegraph, he took up a job with the Daily Mirror in 1965 before returning to the Belfast Telegraph group.

Later, he was appointed to write the Ulster Log Diary column in the Belfast Telegraph.

As well as this, his job was to break exclusive showbiz stories and among the stars he interviewed were Peter Sellers, Luciano Pavarotti and Cliff Richard.

Mr McIlwaine met his wife, Irene in February 1977 and the pair were married in August that year.

He quit writing his column for the Belfast Telegraph in December 2017.

Belfast Telegraph editor Gail Walker, described Mr McIlwaine as "a master of the succinct pen-portrait" while Ivan Little, actor and journalist, described Mr McIlwaine as "a giant of a journalist and a gem of a man".

Gordon Burns, former presenter of BBC North West Tonight and former host of the Krypton Factor, said: "Eddie played a big part in me becoming a journalist interviewing me for story when I was at school".

A service of thanksgiving for Eddie McIlwaine will take place at 2pm on Saturday at St Catherine's Parish Church, Killead.

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