Familiar face of funfair dies after over half-century in job

Colm Quinn who worked from the 1950s up to the time of his death at the weekend at the  Barry's Amusements complex in his native Portrush
Colm Quinn who worked from the 1950s up to the time of his death at the weekend at the Barry's Amusements complex in his native Portrush

A man who played a key part of one of Northern Ireland’s best-known family attractions for over half-a-century has died.

Colm Quinn, 79, began working at Barry’s in Portrush 62 years ago, and spent 50 years as the operator of the amusement park’s carousel horses.

The job would have made him a familiar face to generations of parents and children, and in the entirety of his career with the park he never once took a day off sick, until he back too unwell to work late last year.

Known as ‘the hobby horse man’, he had suffered from cancer and died on Sunday at Dalriada hospital.

Among those in attendance at the time was Barry’s owner Kristina Trufelli, 48.

She said: “He was the first one to come in in the mornings and the last one to leave. He was never tired. He was just an amazing man – one in a million. He was always smiling.”

Within a few hours of announcing his death in the park’s Facebook page, there had been a flood of comments from those who recalled meeting him.

“People have had four generations coming, and all remember him,” said Miss Trufelli.

“He was just lovely with old and young. He was a legend.”

She said that they are considering ways of marking his death at the amusement park, with possibilities including a plaque with his favourite sayings.

Chief amongst them was the catchphrase he delivered to countless children: “Look after your mummies and daddies!”

Sister Lisa Trufelli said in a statement: “When people learned he was in hospital many wanted to visit him, many of the hospital staff who remembered him from their childhood visited his bedside.”

Typical of the 200-plus comments posted online by around 5.30pm on Monday (six hours after the news was broken) was the following from Alana Montgomery, who wrote: “So sad, deepest sympathy to his family.

“I remember him from my childhood and watched my children on the hobby horses last year and he was there!”

Mr Quinn, a native of Portrush, is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Coleen and grandson Adam.

His funeral is due to be held on Wednesday, January 21, at 11am at Ivan Murdock Funeral Home in Coleraine, with interment to follow in Ballywillan Cemetery in Portrush.

All are welcome to attend.

His family have requested no flowers, and asked that donations be made to Dogs Trust in Ballymena.