To those who knew him best, the late Michael Brewster was one of life’s more unassuming of characters.
A talented carpenter by trade, Michael or Micky as he was affectionately known amongst his close family and friends, passed away last month at the age of 80.
Well known for his love of Irish traditional music, the father of seven spent much of his early life growing up on the shores of Lough Melvin in the Co Fermanagh village of Garrison.
But like many of his peers and close acquaintances, economic factors played a key part in his decision to travel across the Irish Sea and make his mark in the UK.
Within a matter of months, Mickey’s talents quickly shone through as he made his mark in the British artisan industry.
Indeed it was there he met his future wife Maureen (nee Hegarty) who had just qualified as a nurse. Again, the location for such an encounter, a British social club, was very much in keeping with the tradition of ex-pats living abroad who later went on to meet their prospective spouses.
By the mid 60s the couple opted to return home, selecting Farnagh Hill as their chosen address. As had been the case when he first left Irish shores, Mickey didn’t take long to adjust, working for a clutch of local firms, one of them being McLoughlin’s of Longford.
In 1971, Mickey landed a job inside the gates of Connolly Barracks. First joining the civilian staff as a carpenter, Mickey’s presence came at a time of heightened scrutiny being directed along the border in the wake of The Troubles.
Many at the time and during his near three decade stint attributed the high quality of the barracks’ accomodation to Mickey’s ability as a polished carpenter and cabinet maker.
In fact, a section taken from a report carried in the Leader at the time of his retirement in 1998 appeared to back this up.
“One of the hallmarks of Connolly Barracks is the high standard of accomodation and general environment and great credit has to go to Mickey as foreman and nine of his staff,” it stated.
Mickey’s retirement was marked informally by the then OC Comdt K Dalton who acknowledged the contribution of Mickey over the past 25 years with a social presentation being held the following month.
Away from the topsy-turvy nature of everyday working life, Mickey spent much of his retirement taking in various hobbies and interests.
One of these was his unnerring appreciation for Irish traditional music. A regular attendee at Fleadh’s up and down the country, Mickey was just at home in his garden or with a fishing rod in his hand back on the scenic shores of Lough Melvin.
A keen follower of politics and his chosen party Fianna Fail, the reticent father of seven was equally known for his acceptance of the wider equine scene in which he would, at times, hand down the occassional wager.
But above all else, the late Mickey Brewster will be remembered as a family man, for his straighforward approach to life, modest demeanour and humble, down to earth persona.
His Funeral Mass took place at St Mary’s Church, Newtownforbes with internment to Ballymacormack Cemetery.
He is survived by his loving family, wife Maureen, sons Padraic, Aiden, Michael, Tadhg, Fintan, Niall and Ciaran, brother Fr. Patrick, sister Annie, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, relatives and a wide circle of friends.