Lives Remembered

Jim Dineen: Gentleman baker of north Belfast

Jim Dineen pictured while working at McErlean’s Bakery

MENTION the name Jim Dineen and the word that is always used is ‘gentleman’.

Born in 1934, Jim was raised in Ardoyne in north Belfast and never forgot his roots.

He was an altar boy in Holy Cross Church, a place he always had deep affection for along with the Passionist community.

As a member of St Gabriel’s Cycling Club, founded by one of the Passionists, Fr Joseph, who became a life long friend, he would cycle all over Ireland with his friends.

Jim was also very active in the Young Christian Workers in the 1950s and ’60s.


Jim was an altar boy in Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne


He attended Holy Cross Boys’ School and began working at the age of 14 as a messenger boy.

However, a year later he began a career in the baking trade which would last more than half a century as he became a master baker.

Jim worked in many of the well-known bakeries in Belfast including Hughes’s and McErlean’s and ended his career in Ormo.

He was a valued colleague by both co-workers and management. He was the ‘gentleman baker’.

Jim was a mentor and trainer for many apprentices and in later life would often meet these men, who always expressed their appreciation for his kindness and encouragement.

Away from work, Jim developed a life-long passion for Irish motorcycle road racing.

He would go to race meetings around the country including the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.



On the day of Jim’s funeral, at his request, he was taken on a lap of the Ulster Grand Prix circuit at Dundrod.

He met the love of his life, Kathleen, at a dance in Ardoyne Hall where he was the MC. They married in 1958 in St Paul’s Church on the Falls Road.

First living in Ladbroke Drive near his parents, in the late 1960s they moved to Chief Street on the Crumlin Road.


Jim and Kathleen Dineen


In the summer of 1969 they were forced from their home, like many others, and moved with their young family to west Belfast.

Then in 1979 they moved to Glen Colin which remained the family home for over 20 years.

Jim was invited by the late Fr Frank McCorry, parish priest of St Oliver Plunkett, to be the trainer of the altar boys and later girls. It was a joy for him and he was very committed. Again, many young people he met years later expressed their gratitude.

He also served as Eucharistic Minister in the parish and at Clonard during the Solemn Novena. He loved going to Mass in Clonard and developed a great love for Knock Shrine in recent years.

Jim enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his wife Kathleen and they travelled all over Ireland. In their retirement they enjoyed holidays abroad and pilgrimages to Rome and Lourdes.

He retired in 1999 and moved with Kathleen to south Belfast. Kathleen sadly passed away in 2011 – Jim was heartbroken and that broken heart never really healed; he missed her terribly.

Jim was a man of great faith, he lived a long life and had many, many friends. He enjoyed visiting people and reminiscing about the past.

Always dressed immaculately, he loved the style and was a great storyteller.

He died on December 17 2022 and his funeral was attended by many people including former colleagues, old neighbours and friends.

At his Requiem Mass at St Joseph’s Church, Hannahstown, Fr Michael Murtagh remarked how Jim was gentle in his manner, smile and caring personality. He will be sorely missed.

Laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery beside his beloved Kathleen, Jim is survived by his six children, Terry, Anne, Jim, Maureen, Kelly and Brendan, 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Brendan Dineen



Lives Remembered