Tribute to school’s former head of music

Archy McNeill (right) at St. Cedma's Church before a concert in aid of Larne Foodbank in 2013. INLT 46-331-PR
Archy McNeill (right) at St. Cedma's Church before a concert in aid of Larne Foodbank in 2013. INLT 46-331-PR
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Tribute has been paid to talented musician, tenor and conductor Archy McNeill whose funeral took place in Gleno last Thursday.

The funeral of Mr. McNeill, a former head of music at Larne High School was held at St. Columba’s Church.

In a family tribute, his sister Jane Owen who said: “His first love was music. He trained as a teacher at Stranmillis College and worked as a teacher of music in secondary schools until 2009.

“Many young people in Larne have spoken to the family and across social media of his inspiring qualities both as a teacher in the classroom and as a pastoral head. He was both skilled and patient and understood young people and the pressures on their lives.

“Together with four college friends, Archy was a founder member of a small concert group, Gaslight, performing songs and music in performance for many years.

“It was a joy for the large congregation to hear the remaining members of Gaslight at the funeral .

“Archy was also a much loved organist and choir master, first at St. Columba ‘s and then later also at St Cedmas, Larne. He was also accompanist and musical director of the Harlandic Male Voice Choir.

“He was always musical, he was always interesting and he was always funny. From quite early on he showed definite signs of that pleasing eccentricity which became his hallmark.

“We have often heard of Renaissance man, that legendary individual who can do anything and knows about everything. If Co Antrim ever produced such a person, it was Archy.

“His talents and interests covered so much: rebuilding pianos, beekeeping, house restoration, natural history, mending old cars, building darkrooms where he could develop his black and white pictures.

Archy was a kind, happy, talented and loving person, a wonderful husband, father and brother, loved, cherished and respected by all his wide family.

“His pianist’s hands are stilled, his voice is silent and his lovely smile is gone. But we never forget that, for so many years, he enriched our lives more than we can possibly say.”