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Ulster log: Why Colm's name will be on his fave hobby horse

By Eddie McIlwaine

Published 18/04/2015

The late Colm Quinn
The late Colm Quinn

The late Colm Quinn, the amusement arcade veteran devoted for 60 years to keeping the carousel spinning at Barry's in Portrush, is to have a hobby horse dedicated to his memory.

After the skilled carpenters have carved the intricate curves of which Colm would have approved and the four-legged fairground animal takes its place on the celebrated roundabout, it will bear the name of the man himself.

Colm, who died several weeks ago at 79, could operate all the rides in Barry's and never missed a day, as boy and man down six decades.

"He preferred to be in control of the carousel rather than the dodgems or any other fun machine," says Christina Trufelli, who owns the park with her sister Lisa. "He loved the carved horses and once upon a time even arranged with farmers to collect the hair from their cart horses so he could fashion new tails for his wooden horses.

"Colm was a special kind of character who was always first in every morning. And not just in summer when Barry's was open to the public. In the winter when the park was closed he was here painting and helping to get everything ready for the next season."

Colm, who is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Coleen and grandson Adam, charmed different generations of holidaymakers and day-trippers. He never forgot a name and if a little boy or girl ran out of money or dropped their change, Colm gave them a free spin on his carousel.

He was delighted when people who first rode the carousel as children returned years later with their own offspring. A Portrush man born and bred, apart from a brief spell in England when he was young, Colm was always getting invited to birthday parties and anniversaries.

But it was in Barry's, his second home, where he was happiest, even giving names to one or two of his favourite horses. Now a special hobby horse will soon bear his own name.

"The carousel is probably the oldest and most traditional ride in Barry's, but arguably the most popular," he once said. "I've seen mums and dads who had their first spin as youngsters returning just to relive old times and to shake my hand."

Meaghan’s set to have reel good time   

Piper Meaghan Lyons, who will be starring at the Spring Gatherin’ at the Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast, next Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 24, 25, 26), has a thing about a ferret.

Not the little creature with a sharp bite if you get too close.

Meaghan is talking about a reel called Andy Renwick’s Ferret.

Meaghan, who is from Ontario but has settled here with Ulster husband William Lyons, explains: “I used to listen to a recording of this reel by Canadian piper Ed Bush every night when I was a 15-year-old in the Army Cadet Pipe Band in Alberta.

“It inspired me to keep practising and some day be able to play such a cool tune myself.”

An ambition the young lady has achieved. She will be with Bleary Pipe Band at the Gatherin’.

A shout out about Lulu’s fling with our George  

Pop evergreen Lulu, who is returning to Belfast in the autumn, once had a brief and innocent fling with George Best.

It happened when they were both free in the late 1960s, before she married Maurice Gibb in 1969 and George was still playing for Manchester United.

Lulu, now a 66-year-old grandmother, once told me how much she liked George and he confessed, too, that he had a crush on the Scottish girl whose breakthrough single half-a-century ago was Shout. However, they were both too busy with their careers to get serious.

Her marriage to Gibb lasted five years. “I was 20 when we married,” she says. “I was far too young and so was Maurice.” Lulu, though, was devastated when he died a young man.

She will be at the Waterfront in Belfast, on October 10, on a 50th anniversary tour and will be introducing fans to her latest album, Making Life Rhyme.

She won Eurovision once upon a time with Boom Bang-A-Bang and sang the title track to the James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun.

Choral society on song for big bash

Antrim Choral Society, formed in the home of the late soprano Sheila Phillips in 1975 when a few friends gathered to sing around her piano, is still fabulous at 40 as conductor John Harmar-Smith prepares to lead them into a birthday concert in High Street Presbyterian Church, Steeple Road, on Tuesday, April 28 at 7.45pm.

The society, whose accompanist now is Jill Stubbs, have performed with Belfast Philharmonic and have received the home-town Mayor's Community Excellence Award for the contribution to the quality of life in Antrim.

Guest artist at the anniversary concert will be mezzo-soprano Helen Aiken (left) plus the Lowry String Quartet, along with accompanist Donal McCrisken.

A lesson on what true wealth is

A few weeks ago I had mixed feelings when I nearly became a Lottery winner and then found out it was all a mistake. Much to my relief I was still poor.

A sudden heap of sterling in my bank account would be hard to cope with. So, why do the Lottery then? It's like doing a bet in the Grand National. You never expect to win.

But there's another sad reason that proves that money isn't everything.

Friends of mine have just lost their 44-year-old son, an only child, to cancer. Riches would be no compensation to this grieving couple nor to the young widow, mother of his twins.

My grieving friend told me: "He lived a good life, we had a great relationship and in that sense we have no regrets. He brought a lot of joy into our lives including his time with his wife and children."

Films set to score with NI public

Northern Ireland's World Cup squads of 1958 and 1986 are the subject of two different screenings as part of this year's Belfast Film Festival.

Spirit of '58 (next Wednesday at Movie House, Dublin Road, Belfast) is the story of an unforgettable squad of players, led by the peerless Danny Blanchflower, as they stand one game away from a semi-final appearance against Brazil. The documentary takes in the Munich air tragedy and a violent win-or-bust struggle against Italy to qualify.

By contrast, Shooting For Socrates (Friday, April 24, at the Waterfront in Belfast) is a feel-good Marie Jones movie that pitches Northern Ireland against Brazil in a battle that united an otherwise divided country for one brief moment in 1986.

Belfast Telegraph

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