Mr Harry McEvoy

WHAT Harry McEvoy lacked in physical stature, he more than made up for in heart and mind.

‘Wee Harry’ was a loving husband to his wife, Gretta, a devoted father to his five children, a caring granda to his eleven grandchildren, a dedicated teacher and a hard-working stalwart of his community, county and country.

He was a gentle man who was held in high esteem by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.  Harry was honest, reliable and trustworthy in all that he did but he also had a great sense of humour.

Harry was born in Drumaness, County Down to parents Patrick and Mary Ann on  January 30, 1930. 

The young Harry attended Christ the King Primary School, along with his sisters, Lily and May, and his brother, Gerry. 

It was also here that he spent his entire teaching career, including 25 years as principal of the school.  

At aged 12 Harry was awarded a scholarship to attend St Colman’s College in Newry. 

It was while he was at ‘Violet Hill’ that he realised he had a calling to the priesthood. 

He spent five years studying at St Columban’s College, Dalgan Park, Navan, with his intentions being to work on the missions in the Far East. 

In 1954, he decided that the priesthood was not for him and so headed back north to St Joseph’s Teacher Training College.

Harry met his future wife, Gretta Crowe, from Galway, after a football match in Dublin in 1961.

Daily cross-border letters and weekly phone calls ensued.

They married in 1963, settled in Carryduff a year later, and there raised their five children — Joe, Marie, Bríd, Seán and David.

Harry was a natural organiser and a tireless worker in the community. 

Upon his return to Drumaness he helped found a St Vincent De Paul conference, becoming their first president.

He repeated the same feat upon moving to Carryduff in 1964.

It was the GAA, however, that became his passion.

He helped form Drumaness GAC, Carryduff GAC and was an advisor in the formation of Bredagh GAC. 

He was also instrumental in bringing the Irish culture competitions Scór and Scór na Nóg to Ulster.

Over the years and right up until he was in his 80s, Harry held so many positions in the GAA that they are impossible to keep track of. 

He was at different times chairman, secretary and treasurer of Carryduff GAC; chairman and treasurer of the Down County Board; Down 

representative on the Ulster Council; chairman and secretary of the Ulster Scór Committee; Ulster representative on the Central Scór Committee at Croke Park;  and chairman of the East Down Board — a role he held for 25 years.

Harry was so self-effacing that more often than not his family and friends were not informed of his latest role.

A fall at the Ulster Scór finals in 2000 resulted in serious knee damage.

Numerous operations curbed Harry’s mobility for the next couple of years and Gretta found herself being a taxi driver for trips to Newry, Monaghan, Dublin and further afield for Harry to attend meetings.  

He soon realised that it was time to hand the batons on and gradually relinquished the positions he held — except for those in Carryduff and Scór!

Harry’s commitment and dedication to the GAA did not go unnoticed. He was the recipient of many awards and presentations.

He was honoured at county, Ulster and All Ireland Scór, was the first recipient of the Carryduff Hall of Fame Award, and received the GAA President’s Award for services to culture.  

Harry and Gretta were blessed with a long and happy life together.

They shared over 25 years of retirement and in that time were rarely seen one without the other. 

They were active members of the close parish community of Carryduff where they attended mass most mornings.

They enjoyed regular trips to Galway to see Gretta’s family and travelled throughout Europe, America, and the Middle East for holidays and to visit their family.

They also made regular visits to Dalgan where Harry was, as you may have guessed, secretary of the Past Pupils Association for over 50 years.

Harry enjoyed good health right up to the end. He was diagnosed with cancer in late November. 

Harry died suddenly just three weeks later on December 16, 2017, in the arms of his beloved Gretta.  

Ar dheis Dé go Raibh a anam.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.