Obituary: Uel Hammond was a sportsman and Seamus Heaney’s drinking pal

Uel Hammond
Uel Hammond

Uel Hammond was an entrepreneur whose ventures ranged from cattle to real estate, and who went on to be a friend of Seamus Heaney.

Born on May 16, 1935, from perhaps as young as eight or nine he was involved in selling livestock at Ballymoney market, and went on to market items such as sheepskin rugs at the Lammas Fair, then Land Rovers and farm machinery.

He set up an estate agency called Hammond Property Services in the mid-1980s.

But it was not only business which drove him. He was a fan of Irish music, history and literature, and through his folk-singer cousin David Hammond he met Seamus Heaney.

According to son Drew, they had frequently gone out drinking in Belfast or in London, and family legend has it that Mr Heaney had even consulted Uel for inspiration for one of his poems. The poet had asked about the famous roadside Frosses trees, not far from the town – though Drew could not be sure if or how this ever made it into Seamus’ work.

He was also a keen sportsman, whose achievements included being a former YMCA junior boxing champion.

He died in the Causeway hospital on March 20, after an accident the previous day, when a gust of wind caught a gate, knocking him over and causing him head injuries.

His funeral was on Sunday March 23 at Kildollagh Parish Church. He is survived by wife Ethna, children Karen, Drew and Claire, and more.