Mr Jim Hanna

JIM Hanna passed away on May 25 after a relatively brief battle with cancer. He was only 59.

His illness proved to be very aggressive and sadly he was taken well in advance of the original prognosis.

Jim spent the first 11 years of his life in the Limestone Road area of North Belfast and it was in the local playground that the nickname Sambo was born. It stuck to the extent that lots of people in Drumaness would have struggled to tell you his proper name.

Sambo wasn’t very big so he had to become streetwise in those formative years, his sharp wit a big asset on city streets beset by the early years of the Troubles.

When his family relocated to mother Cissy’s home turf in Drumaness he quickly settled into a completely different way of life, making friends easily along the way. That circle of friends, like Sambo, were full of mischief and the scrapes they got themselves into are the stuff of legend in Drumaness. They could perhaps be described as lovable rogues, but they belonged to a time, pre-mobile phones etc, when you had to make your own fun.

The photo of Sambo reproduced here is loved by his family because he is pictured as he will be remembered, a glint in the eye, a smile playing around his mouth as he plans the next wind-up.

Sambo went into painting and decorating as a trade, a perfect choice given his love of banter, craic and cups of tea or coffee. He was known far and wide as he plied his trade, but particularly in Drumaness where he worked in so many houses. That was reflected in later years when he had a collection of houses where he would call for a coffee and cigarette.

His popularity in the village was underlined by the numbers who lined the streets as his funeral cortege passed by, something which was very emotional for his family. 

There were a few bumps in the road for Sambo during life’s journey but his family were always there for him, no more so than when he needed constant care in the final weeks and months of his life.

His sister, Mary, and her husband, Paddy, nursed him in their home as this terrible illness took its toll. They had great support from the rest of the family and Sambo would have gone to his grave knowing he was loved.

He never married, but leaves behind brothers John and Pat and sisters Elizabeth, Mary Anne and Ita, as well as lots of nephews and nieces.

Sambo was my brother-in-law and like everyone who knew him we will miss his craic, but most of all we will miss his presence in our midst. He called everyone kid. Rest in peace, kid.

Donal Bell.