‘The real McCoy’ - Len passes away

Len McCoy.
Len McCoy.

Well-known Banbridge businessman Len McCoy died peacefully in Craigavon Area Hospital on Monday January 26 after a short illness.

His funeral took place on Wednesday January 28 at 2.00pm from Holy Trinity Parish Church to the new cemetery, Newry Road Banbridge.



Len was born in Church Street, Warrenpoint. He was the son of John and Lily McCoy; he had two older brothers, Bob and Jack, and a sister Frances.

He grew up in Warrenpoint, where his father worked as a joiner. Len attended Dromore Road Public Elementary School in Warrenpoint (also known as Jamesons School). After he left school he worked briefly in a wholesale chemist’s.

Len loved to swim in the sea and once swam from Warrenpoint to O’Meath.

Len’s father and brother Jack subsequently went to work in the shipyard and the family moved to live at 62 Kansas Avenue, off the Cavehill Road in Belfast in the early 40’s.

Len joined the Airforce as a Radar Operator in 1945 in the final year of the Second World War. He was stationed at various locations in England, Scotland, Holland and Germany.

After he left the Airforce he worked in Inglis Bakery, as bread server, doing his deliveries with a horse and cart.

His horse was called Bob; and the Bob didn’t just pull the bread cart, he sometimes indulged in some the Paris Buns.

Len also did relief work for the other bread servers were off on holiday; so he got to know quite a bit of county Down and county Antrim.

He fell in love with Selina, his sister’s best friend, and they were married in St James Church on the Antrim Road in Belfast on 29 June 1955.

Len was made a Charge Hand with Inglis’ bakery around that time and they established their home in Ballymena.

A few years later he applied for an Area Manager’s post with Bibby’s and the family moved to Portrush about 1960.

Len subsequently bought a small farm near Ballymoney and the family moved to live there in 1962. Len continued to work as Area Manager for Bibby’s and to farm as well.

Len’s brother Bob had emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950s and with Bob’s encouragement Len and the family decided to move to New Zealand in 1970.

They stayed there for almost a year, before deciding to return to Northern Ireland. They came home by boat visiting various countries on the way.

When they came home they bought a house on the Rathfriland Road in Banbridge.

Len got a job with Big Dutchman, selling feeding equipment for poultry. Then about a year later he started work with Joseph Morton’s in Banbridge selling grass seed and specialist seeds.

While they were living on the Rathfriland Road, Len got a goat or two and ended up with 14 goats - goats that had to be hand milked - and the family had to help out with the milking.

Then in 1985 he bought a garage, petrol station & house at Katesbridge. He worked hard to develop the business and the premises; he built a new shop and a new garage, he established a successful agricultural supplies and garden machinery business.

The business grew and developed through his endeavour and hard work; and not only provided employment for this family but also for people in the local community.

Sadly and tragically the family experienced a devastating loss when Len’s son Paul was killed in a motor bike accident in March 1994.

Len was a keen gardener, growing both flowers and vegetables.

Len was thoughtful, kind and generous, he had a good sense of humour; a people person with an outgoing personality.

One of his customers described him as a legend - the real McCoy.

Len attended Church in the various places where he lived,

He was treasurer in Killdollagh Church, and he helped on the count team, for a time, here in Banbridge.

Sympathy was expressed to Len’s wife Selina, his daughters and son Ann, Bobby and Caroline, and their spouses Walter, Karen and Jim.

His grandchildren Elaine, Alison, Laura and Sarah, great grandchildren Daniel, Beth, Anna, Zara, Sam and Lewis, and to all the family.

At the funeral service Len’s granddaughter Elaine Gillespie talked about Len’s love of poetry, in particular poems by Robert Service and Kipling, which he would recite at family gatherings and she recited Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’, which the family feel summed up Len’s ethos for life.