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Rathlin in mourning as its eldest resident Loughie dies at age of 92

By David Young

Published 04/06/2016

Laughlin McQuilkin, who has died on Rathlin Island aged 92
Laughlin McQuilkin, who has died on Rathlin Island aged 92

An era came to an end on Rathlin yesterday with the death of the island's oldest resident - Laughlin 'Loughie' McQuilkin.

The 92-year-old, who was born on September 9, 1923 was described as "a lovely gentleman - a joy to meet".

The fisherman, coastguard volunteer, forester, author and ceilidh dancer embodied the finest traditions of the island and its people, according to former Minister for Finance and Personnel Mervyn Storey.

The North Antrim MLA offered his condolences and sympathy to Mr McQuilkin's family after learning of his death following a long illness.

"Loughie was obviously known to everyone on Rathlin and was a character also familiar to many visitors," he said.

"His passing will be very keenly felt by all the island's residents, and I would pass my sympathies in particular to his family at this time of such sorrow.

"On the occasions when I visited Rathlin, it was always a joy to meet Loughie.

"He was a character on the island, well-known and well-respected by everyone.

"For Rathlin's close-knit island community, this is a very sad event.

"Loughie was the living history of Rathlin and a font of knowledge about the island's rich heritage and tradition, as his book Rathlin Reminiscences showed.

"He was a lovely gentleman - a joy to meet.

"Loughie saw living on Rathlin as a great privilege and pleasure, and you knew when you met him that Rathlin was his home and a place he was very proud of."

Fellow islander and friend Michael Cecil, from the Rathlin Community Development Association, also paid tribute to Mr McQuilkin.

"He was great seafaring man, with a keen interest in sailing and the traditional skills that go with it - net-making, boat-building and sail-making," he said.

"A few years ago, he set up workshops where he taught some of the young people these traditional skills.

"He was always cheerful and always willing to help.

"Loughie was eager to pass on information and to tell stories of the old days.

"Loughie was a great character to be with. He will be sorely missed."

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