Belfast Telegraph

John Greenan's family in emotional tribute to Belfast grandfather who died in Sligo car crash

By Angela Rainey

Emotional tributes have been paid to a Belfast grandfather who died in a car accident in Co Sligo on Easter Monday.

Retired quantity surveyor John Niall Greenan (69), from the Malone Road, was described by those who loved him as "the cornerstone of the family" and "a big smiley giant who was a joy to spend time with".

Friends said he had time for everyone and was well-known for his 6ft 4in stature as well as his constant smile and sense of fun.

Mr Greenan was visiting his second home - which he designed and built himself in the town of Grange in Co Sligo, a place that he described as his "pride and joy" - when tragedy struck.

He suffered a heart attack at the wheel, causing the vehicle to career into a ditch in Castlegal, Cliffoney. He leaves behind a close-knit family which includes his heartbroken wife of 37 years, Kathleen (66), son Niall (33), daughter Ciara (35) as well as grandchildren Harry (3) and four-month-old Lucia.

The family said that although the news was a huge shock, they were relieved that no one else was involved in the accident.

"My dad was a very down to earth person," said son Niall, a personal trainer who owns Iron Fit on Kennedy Way in Belfast.

"He had friends from labourers to top surgeons. He was the sort of person who just got on with everyone.

"We were brought up to have a hatred of snobbery. It was a household rule because my dad didn't believe in it. None of us do. He believed that you should treat all people with respect.

"We are grateful that no one else was involved and that no other families are grieving as a result of the accident.

"He would have been really annoyed about that if someone else had been injured."

Originally from Annaclone, Co Down, Mr Greenan was a keen sportsman. He was also a member of Bundoran Golf Club, which he recently played at less because of a slight stroke two years ago, and he was always proud to talk about his days in GAA when he played for Annaclone and Down minors.

"Dad loved to socialise - he and my mum would enjoy themselves, especially at the weekends," Niall said. "The two of them were very close and always together.

"He was a real social butterfly who liked to have a drink in the local in Sligo with mum. He loved the live music, like traditional Irish folk.

"The barmaid once told us that when we weren't there, he would be up singing. We couldn't believe it because we didn't have him down for a singer.

"He just loved the craic and people found him and mum to be great company.

"Dad was such a family man. He was an excellent father to me and my sister. He gave good advice and helped me set up my business. He idiot-proofed me and saved me from myself many times.

"He loved being a grandfather and was very close to my son, Harry. The two of them were always messing about and having fun."

Niall said that his father's passing had left a void in the family but they have taken comfort in the many messages of condolences and testaments from those who knew him. "Dad worked hard and played hard," added Niall. "He was self-made.

"He used to say that three score and 10 is plenty enough for anyone, and he died just two months shy of his 70th birthday.

"We have to relearn everything now to work out how we can go on as a family without him here. He was the cornerstone of our family.

"You don't really know how proud you are of someone until something happens that forces you think. If he could look back, he would say he had a happy life, he was always proud of us and we are so proud of him. He was an excellent husband and father."

A midday Mass will be held today for Mr Greenan at Magerhal Chapel in Annaclone.

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