Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to John Mulholland after death at 55

Courageous: John Mulholland
Courageous: John Mulholland
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A "most courageous" entrepreneur who passed away after a 14-month battle with cancer has been hailed a hero by his heartbroken family.

Father-of-four John Mulholland (55), who created a multi-million pound car dealership from a £500 wedding gift, died at his home on Saturday surrounded by his loved ones.

The north Belfast native moved to Randalstown during the Troubles and founded John Mulholland Motors in the Co Antrim town with his wife Alicia, selling cars from the side of their house, over three decades ago.

He was also a racing fanatic, having started rally driving aged just 19.

He will be buried on Thursday in his favourite racing overalls after Requiem Mass at St Oliver Plunkett Church in Toome.

A funeral notice said the "beloved husband and father passed away at home after the most courageous 14-month battle with cancer surrounded by his beloved wife Alicia, children Alicia, Shona, Johnnie and Anna".

Following his cancer diagnosis Mr Mulholland spoke openly about his illness and fronted a major fundraising campaign in a bid to donate £40,000 to the Friends of the Cancer Centre charity by the end of the year.

His daughter Shona (28) spoke of her devastation at losing her "one in a trillion dad" and told how she had believed he would recover from the illness.

"Anything dad approached in life, he never expected to be defeated and genuinely we never expected this, we always thought he would get better," she told the Irish News.

"We have been inundated with calls and texts over the past 24 hours from the nurses and doctors who cared for him - they all said they had never seen such a fighter.

"For us, he was a one in a trillion dad. He was our hero. He lived his life to the max and fitted more in his 55 years than most people could fit in 555.

"He approached everything in life with love and passion, be it his beloved dogs, horses and alpacas, rallying or simply teaching us how to tie a windsor knot for school. But he also taught us to always support those who support you, which is why he got involved with Friends of the Cancer Centre after his first appointment with them.

"We cannot thank them enough for the dignity and care they provided dad and us towards the end.

"We felt like we had their arms around us the whole time and they fully understand dad's wish to come home and moved mountains for him to be able to do that."

Mr Mulholland spent much of the last four months in hospital.

A spokesperson for John Mulholland Motors Group described him as a "gentleman".

He is survived by wife Alicia, daughters Alicia, Shona and Anna, and son Johnnie.

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