Eileen May Hamilton (Formerly of Cool-na-Gee, Portrush, and latterly, Madelayne Court, Portstewart) passed away peacefully on October 2nd in the Causeway Hospital, Coleraine.
Eileen Hamilton lived a long and useful life, underpinned by a strong work ethic. She was born on 14th February, 1922, the elder daughter of Horace and Jessie Willis of Tarvin, near Chester. Eileen had a younger sister, Dorothy. As a young girl she attended the Queen’s School, Chester. She was then apprenticed in Browns of the Rows, Chester. After Rrowns she attended a commercial college in Colwyn Bay, where she learnt typing, filing and book-keeping.
World War 2 intervened and Eileen joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Eileen was attached to the RAMC, based at Nesscliff Camp. Here she wrote reports for doctors; typed out and filed medical reports for the soldiers etc. While stationed at Nesscliff, she attended a Red Cross dance in Rhyl, where she met a dashing, young officer of the Staffordshire Regiment, Eric Hamilton and the rest is history. They were married in May,1944, after Eileen received special leave for this purpose.
Their honeymoon in Keswick, in the Lake District, was all too brief, for Eric received a telegram ordering him back to his unit, as we now know for the invasion of Europe. Saying goodbye at Crewe Junction,Eileen returned to Nesscliff while Eric went to war. They did not see each other again until the end of the war.
After they were both demobbed, Eric brought his wife to NI for the first time and they lived in the family home, Cool-na-Gee. Eileen’s husband, Eric Hamilton, was a highly respected member of the Hamilton family who owned one of the province’s best known businesses - the White House, (founded in 1691 by Mr Henry Hamilton, subsequently run by his son Harry and finally by Harry’s eldest son Eric). In 1952 Eileen, an excellent business woman, joined the staff of the White House and inaugurated a process of modernisation. Eileen became a director of the family firm, taking charge of G Department: handbags and fancy goods. When they sold the White House to Crowe Wilson & Co,Dublin, Eileen and Eric stayed on for a year before retiring.
Retirement did not suit Eileen who needed to be busy doing something. She decided to stand for election to Portrush Urban District Council and was the only woman to be elected in 1967, remaining a member until the Council was disbanded in 1973. Her election manifesto is refreshing in its honesty: Speaking about local unemployment she writes, “Only constant and ruthless harrying of the government can hold out hope of improvement. Usually a woman is more single-minded than a man in nagging and nagging until she gets her way.“
As an active councillor she represented the Council on the Board of the North Antrim Technical College and was instrumental in bringing the Catering College to the town as a member of the North Antrim Technical Committee. She even voted for the opening of the Council swings on Sundays.
This was not enough to keep her busy, so she opened Irish Crafts shop in 1969, which she ran until her second retirement in 1988. Many of the local women were employed in knitting Aran sweaters, most of which were sold to the American market. She was a woman of wide interests, who was never idle. She was President of the Route Naturalists Field Club for 10 years; secretary of the Business and Professional Woman’s Club; a member of the Portrush Royal British Legion; Portrush Players; Ballywillan Drama Club; Portrush Summer Theatre; Workers Education Authority - she never stopped learning, believing in lifelong education; she attended classes at Flowerfield, was a member of the WI and the Coleraine Historical Society.
She was extremely proud of her adopted home, loving everything to do with Portrush.
Eileen is survived by her son Rory, daughter-in-law Maureen and grandsons Justin and Rory junior.
The funeral service for Eileen was held at Holy Trinity, Portrush on Saturday, October 6th. Rev. Robert Simpson officiated and delivered the Address. A Eulogy was delivered by Mr. Ashley Hawley. Cremation took place the following Tuesday at Roselawn.