A quiet family man who loved cycling

Mr Michael Shanks,
Mr Michael Shanks,

A Blackskull native turned Dromore man, who died a month to the day after losing his wife of 69 years, has been laid to rest at Dromore Cathedral burial ground.

Michael (Micky) Shanks (95), formerly of Brewery Lane, passed away at Hillsborough’s Lisadian House on May 12, having been predeceased by his wife Margaret (Madge) on April 12.

Survived by sons Jim (Banbridge), Michael and Richard (Dromore); daughters, Mrs Margaret Murphy (Anahilt) and Mrs Valerie Gamble (Portadown), 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, Micky was born in 1920 to Mr James and Emily Shanks of Drumskee, Blackskull.

He was brother to the late Mrs Sally Chambers, Mrs Joyce Rea and Mr Alan Shanks.

Micky was educated at Fortesque School, Blackskull, where he often enjoyed the task of walking the headmaster’s greyhounds after class.

After leaving school at the age of 14 he trained as a weaver at Ewart Liddell’s Donaghcloney linen factory, later working for McGarvey’s, at Captain Coey’s, Ashfield, where they made military uniforms; it was there that he met his future wife and the couple married on February 1, 1946, in Donaghcloney Presbyterian Church.

Setting up home at Ashfield, they raised their five children there, but in 1977 moved to Dromore town, first to Hawthorne Walk, then Meeting Street and in recent years to Brewery Lane.

On the work front Micky moved to Robinson and Cleaver, the largest linen warehouse and general store in Belfast, before taking employment in 1947 with Down County Council and later with the newly established DoE Roads Service, with whom he spent 37 years, retiring as a foreman in 1984.

A keen cricketer in his youth (and a lifetime follower of the sport, one of a number he enjoyed watching) Micky played for Blackskull and Donaghcloney.

Also as a young boy, he was a member of the ‘Boy Scouts’ in Donaghcloney and over the years he enjoyed reminiscing with his friend Ernest Copeland about their scouting days, not least their expeditions to ‘Gill Hall Castle’.

Micky was a keen gardener too, growing his own vegetables, and he passed to his sons a love of cycling born of having ridden a bicycle most of his life, to and from work in all weathers.

Blessed with good health until the onset of dementia some four years ago, Micky was a quiet family man who loved to see his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren come to visit.

Officiating at the funeral, from John Gamble’s funeral home to Dromore Cathedral, the Very Rev Bryan Kerr paid tribute to Micky, whose daughters-in-law Deborah Shanks and Linda Shanks read from the Bible.

Donations in lieu of flowers, if desired, may be sent to John Gamble, Funeral Director, 7 Meeting Street, Dromore, BT25 1AQ, for Dromore Cathedral Development Fund.