Patrick Harte: Pharmacist made indelible impact on all he met
TO be in Patrick Harte's company was always a joy.
Bright, energetic and full of life, he had a great sense of humour and was a wonderful storyteller.
He had that innate ability to put people at ease, creating an instant rapport and bringing out the best in those around him.
Everyone remembered his bright blue eyes connecting with them in a room - he had such a strong presence and charisma.
Patrick was also kind, thoughtful and generous. He always put others before himself and looked out for anyone in a difficult spot.
These were qualities put to great effect in his job as a pharmacist.
Whatever the issue brought to him, big or small, he’d find a solution through his amazing wisdom and breadth of connections.
Patrick's ability to relate with young and old can be traced back to happy days with his father Barney on the mobile shop he drove for the Co-operative around his native Pomeroy, high in the Sperrins in Co Tyrone.
Born in 1952 in the townland of Gortnagarn, Patrick was the much-loved youngest son of Barney and Winnie Harte and brother of Gerard, Philomena, Anne and Teresa.
As a pupil at St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon, he enjoyed amateur dramatics and played some football for Pomeroy Plunketts GAC.
He went on to study pharmacy at Queen's University Belfast and spent summers in America working in Wildwood, New Jersey, where he met Marian Davison.
He was 20 and she was 18 and they would be inseparable for almost 50 years.
They married in 1978 and had four children – Teresa, Michael, Sarah and Kevin - whom Patrick was so proud of.
He set up in business in the early 1980s, initially with pharmacies in Finaghy and later in Dunmurry, Fortwilliam and Hilltown.
Patrick always had time for every customer and would remember everyone's name, often bringing them into the dispensary to talk one-on-one over tea and scones.
They’d feel comfortable to call him at any point with a problem, and the pharmacies would be opened at any hour to bring what was needed to their door.
Patrick also treated his staff like extended family, mentoring and guiding them even after they had moved on.
He believed work should be stimulating and fun and had a particular soft spot for students. Many would remark on the impact of attending the ‘University of P Harte’, with his words of wisdom and humorous sayings staying with them many years later.
A favourite was ‘Where you go, there you go’ – the idea of being content within, regardless of where you are or your situation. Patrick was good at being fully present in the moment long before the concept of mindfulness was known.
Away from work he had a great love of Irish literature, poetry and music – his favourite poet was John Montague - and he enjoyed following the Tyrone football team, where he could catch up with all his old friends.
Club Tyrone also paid tribute to his fundraising for GAA activities across the county.
In the words of The Mountains of Pomeroy, played on his final journey home, he "scorned to turn and fly" from his own place or community.
"Relentless in his quiet, low-key but so effective support, Patrick was a founder-member of Club Tyrone back in the mid-1990s. In the years since, he never faltered in his commitment, nor in his remarkable work in bringing so many others on board with him," it said.
"Gaelic Tyrone’s growth and development, its Garvaghey centre and the county’s overall sense of feel-good, could not have been the same without Patrick’s involvement.
"Today two Tyrone teams will play championship football in Croke Park. In life, Patrick was always there for Tyrone. Today he’ll be there too. And we’ll all be the better for it. No-one better as a friend: no-one truer for Tyrone."
Diagnosed with an acute form of leukaemia in 2019, Patrick never complained at any point and lived life to the full as much as possible.
He continued working throughout his illness and even in hospital, still retaining his sense of humour and connectedness from afar.
Patrick Harte died on July 14, shortly before his 69th birthday, and was buried in Pomeroy after Requiem Mass in Good Shepherd Church, Belfast.
He made an indelible impact on all who knew him and his presence will be sorely missed but always fully felt.