Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid to 'King of Strabane' Pat Gillespie following his death aged 102

Strabane’s Pat Gillespie leading the town's St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival parade
Strabane’s Pat Gillespie leading the town's St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival parade

Tributes have been paid to Pat Gillespie, known as the "King of Strabane", who has passed away aged 102.

Mr Gillespie was an ambassador for the town, serving as the Grand Marshall of the annual St Patrick's Day parade and even turning on Strabane's Christmas lights in 2017.

Two years ago, the much-loved local character was inundated with messages of support from all over Northern Ireland and beyond after three masked forced their way into his Railway Street home.

The gang held Pat in his chair while they ransacked his bedroom, searched his pockets and made off with a sum of cash, leaving him shocked and shaken.

A fundraiser was held to buy a new security system for the centenarian, which managed to raise £1,400 in just four hours.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in the run up to his 101st birthday, Pat said the secret to long life was laughter and "keeping the brain ticking over".

"I think the secret is keeping your mind occupied," he said.

"I'm continually thinking on something, working on something. As long as your mind is thinking on something, you'll be happy."

Pat was married to Eileen for 70 years and together they raised eight children - five girls and three boys. Eileen passed away 25 years ago.

Following his death at the weekend, tributes to Pat Gillespie have poured in on social meda.

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan tweeted: "Truly very sorry to hear Strabane’s much loved son has passed away. Rest in Peace Pat Gillespie.

"A true Gentleman, full of life and loved by all. The prayers of this entire community are with his family."

Sinn Fein MLA Maoliosa McHugh said: "Saddened to hear of the death of Strabane legend, Pat Gillespie."

Strabane Sigersons GAA posted: "RIP Pat Gillespie. On behalf of everyone at Strabane Sigersons we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Strabane legend Pat Gillespie, who has passed away at the grand age of 102."

Another user wrote: "Very sad to hear of the passing of Strabane’s Pat Gillespie. He was 102 and led a hugely colourful life. Strabane won’t be the same without him."

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