The late Christy Gilchriest pictured at St Joseph's National School in Longford town in 1993. Photo: Joe McDonagh
It was a poignant moment yesterday morning as the funeral cortege of the much loved Christy Gilchriest made its way past St Joseph's school in Longford town en route to Ballymacormack cemetery, with the remains of a man who was an institution outside the school gates for years.
Christy had been the much loved lollipop man at the school up until his retirement a number of years ago, and no man did the role with more love or vigour.
Famously he shook hands with every child as they crossed the road and for some children it was the welcome boost they needed facing into another day.
It was a lovely gesture that was never forgotten by thousands of youngsters and his dedication even made it to the national airwaves after a passing motorist saw Christy in action.
His good deeds featured on the Joe Duffy radio show and for a few hours Christy was the national treasure that we always knew he was.
The McEoin Park favourite passed away peacefully at the Autumn Lodge, St Joseph's Hospital on Tuesday, October 9.
A native of Newtownforbes, he and his late wife, Elizabeth, lived on Michael's Road for many years and were very much part of 'old Longford'.
He was originally from Carrickmoira on the outskirts of Newtownforbes and his passing is sadly mourned by his brothers, Willie (Newtownforbes) and Tommy (England); sister Eileen (Newtownforbes), nieces, neighbours and his many friends.
Following funeral mass in St Joseph's Hospital Chapel on Thursday, October 11, he made one last journey past his beloved school on his way to his final resting place in Ballymacormack Cemetery.
Heaven has the greatest lollipop man of them all. Rest in Peace, Christy.