Belfast Telegraph

Tributes pour in as 'Hobby Horse Man' Colum Quinn dies aged 79

By Amanda Ferguson

He was affectionately known to generations of children across Northern Ireland as the Hobby Horse Man.

Tributes have been paid to Colum Quinn, who had a long association with Barry's Amusements in his home town of Portrush.

He died on Sunday after a short illness. The 79-year-old Co Antrim grandfather, known for his positive and kind nature, had worked at the seaside attraction, which opened in the 1920s, since the 1950s.

He is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Coleen and grandson Adam and wider family circle.

Colum's brother Thomas Quinn told the Belfast Telegraph the outpouring of grief from the public had been overwhelming.

"He is known as the Hobby Horse Man and I think people will remember him well," Thomas said.

"He was one of those fellas who had a knack with people. He had great success with the carousel because people warmed to him.

"He liked to see generations of people come back with their own children and when people said it was some of the happiest times of their lives being on the horses."

Barry's owners Kristina and Lisa Trufelli described Colum as "part of the family and an institution".

Kristina said: "I have known him all my life. He had a heart of gold, he was genuine, warm, loving, caring and had time for everyone."

Lisa said: "All the children and parents loved him.

"He had a beautiful personality and when people learned he was in hospital many wanted to visit him. Many of the hospital staff who remembered him from their childhood visited his bedside."

During busy Easter and summer seasons hard-working Colum was the first to arrive in the morning to open up Barry's and always the last to leave.

Kristina said discussions are ongoing about how the team at Barry's will make a permanent memorial to Colum on the site.

"It is early days, but we definitely will put a plaque up on the horses," she said.

"He also had some favourite sayings, like, 'take care of your mammies and daddies' and he always talked about the 'good weather' even when it was lashing with rain outside. He was such a positive person."

Social media users have been sharing their memories of Colum online.

"He was a legend," one woman said. "I'll never forget the Hobby Horse Man and his horses. I met my future husband on them".

Colum's public funeral will take place at 11am tomorrow from Murdock's in Coleraine.

Burial follows at Ballywillan Cemetery in Portrush.

Factfile

Barry's Amusements opened in the 1920s in Portrush and has been one of the biggest draws to the north coast since then. The first rides at the park were gallopers, swingboats, a dodgem track, skittles and a ferris wheel.

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