A SIXMILECROSS man described at his funeral as the ‘oldest publican in Tyrone’ had worked in the business for more than 70 years.
Michael McCann died last week at the age of 93. He was well-known in the village, where the family premises ‘The Strand Brae Bar’ has been a popular hostelry for many decades.
Speaking at his funeral in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beragh on Saturday, parish priest, Monsignor Colum Currie, said Mr McCann was someone who would “always be remembered” in the locality.
“Michael was born on January 20, 1927, and the sixth child of 13. Easter 1935 was a difficult year for him and his family as that was the year his father died,” Monsignor Currie said.
“Above all, he would never forget the strength and fortitude of his mother who was left to rear a large family on her own, manage the family bar and to look after three small farms.
The attributes and values shown by his her during those difficult times became the bedrock on which Michael McCann lived the rest of his life.
“At the age of 15, he was working full-time in his mother’s bar, a job that he continued without interruption until shortly after his 90th birthday. Now that alone was some achievement.
“It was in the bar that he got to know generations of family in this whole locality, keeping a close record of births, deaths and marriages in his famous red book which was often consulted to settle a local argument.
“It was in the bar that his customers got to know Michael as a man whose strict standards were set before others as an example of his own personal ideals. There was no bad behaviour, no bad language and at one time no television.”
Mr McCann was Pipe Major with the Tullyneill Pipe Band and he took great pride in its success in winning an All-Ireland title in the 1950s. The band were also renowned for marching from Sixmilecross to Mass in Beragh on Christmas morning and on other special occasions.
Monsignor Currie said Mr McCann had married Nan Hughes from Carrickmore parish in 1962, and the couple were to have seven children.
“She pre-deceased him at the age of 56 in 1992, leaving Michael to care for his family in the same way as his own mother had cared for his own family. He enjoyed days travelling to Bundoran or heading out for a Sunday drive and his kindness and generosity was always enjoyed,” he added.
Mr McCann, who was pre-deceased by his wife, Nan, is survived by his children Niall, Fidelma, Mark, Michael, Aine, Colm and Marius, brothers, Terry, Hughie, Joe and Kieran and sister Kathleen, 16 grandchildren and one great grandchild. He was also pre-deceased by his brothers and sisters, Mary, Felix, Packie, Brigid, Jennie, John and Tommy.