Belfast Telegraph

Centenarian's Billy Duffy's sense of wonder kept mind young

The funeral of William Duffy, who died aged 105, takes place at St James’ Church in Tandragee
The funeral of William Duffy, who died aged 105, takes place at St James’ Church in Tandragee
The funeral of William Duffy, who died aged 105, takes place at St James’ Church in Tandragee
William Duffy
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Mourners at the funeral of a well-known Co Armagh man who had reached his 106th year have heard him described as "a living antique" and the "go-to person for local knowledge".

Fr Michael Woods was speaking yesterday at the funeral of William (Billy) Duffy in St James' Church, Tandragee.

Mr Duffy was just weeks away from celebrating his 106th birthday when he died on Friday.

Fr Woods told mourners that Mr Duffy's "sense of wonder kept his mind young for 106 years, but the body couldn't keep up".

Mr Duffy was born in Greenwich Village in the United States on April 22, 1913. His family returned to Northern Ireland when he was a young boy after his mother died in a tram accident.

He was predeceased by his wife Dolores, at the age of 84, in December 2017. The couple had eight children - Monica, Deirdre, Liam, Blathnaid, Oisin, Grainne, Meabh and Brid - as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In his sermon, Fr Woods said: "Luke, in his gospel today, tells us that we should always be ready for Christ when he comes. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. In Billy's case it was almost the fourth watch, if there is such.

"Billy was well-known for his love and wonder at the printed word, be it Swahili or Scots Gaelic. Like his cows ruminating and chewing the cud, he likewise chewed and ruminated on what he had read.

"His love and wonder at the printed word extended to the living word... his Mass on Sunday was a must. I remember him wading through festivals and marches with his walking aid to get to his Mass... the crowd going one way and he the other.

"To qualify as an antique piece of furniture an item would have to be 100 years old. Most of us will only make the collectibles grade of less than 100, but Billy was a living antique, nearly 106 years old," Fr Woods added.

Mr Duffy was laid to rest in Ballinabeck Cemetery.

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