Professional dancer who loved Derrygarve

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A man who grew up near Castledawson and went on to become a professional dancer in Canada, passed away recently.

Albert King McIlrath was born in Canada on May 28, 1929, and later came to live with his grandparents, James and Grace Ewart in Derrygarve, near Castledawson.

He attended the nearby Annahorish Primary School (1935), and Magherafelt Technical School at Moneymore Road in the town in 1940.

The family belonged to Castledawson Presbyterian Church and Albert was a regular attender at Sunday School there and also Catherwood’s Sunday School in The Creagh, near Toomebridge.

After working for a short while in Harry Kennedy’s shop at Rainey Street, Magherafelt, he returned to Canada in 1946, aged 17 and became a highly regarded professional dancer.

A great natural talent,he continued to perform and teach dancing all over Canada for the next 20 years.

In later years he moved into electronic sales in which,with his natural “gift of the gab”he also excelled, until his retirement.

He always felt his true home,however, was Derrygarve and he returned many times over the years,taking great pleasure in renewing his many friendships around Aughrim, Leslie’s Hill and Newbridge.

A well read and knowledgeable person, with a great sense of humour, he always looked on the bright side of life.

He will be sadly missed by his very close family and many friends.

Albert, who passed away in Canada on January 18, 2019, had been ill for some time prior to his death.

He is survived by his sister Alberta,her husband Barry and son Jim.

Following cremation, Albert’s ashes will be returned to his beloved Derrygarve - the place that was close to his heart and where he felt most at home.