SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell has, along with party representatives from north Antrim, led tributes to former Moyle Council Chairman Malachy McSparran, who died on Tuesday December 13.
In advance of attending Mr McSparran’s funeral in Craigagh Church, Cushendun, on Thursday December 15, Dr McDonnell said: “Malachy was not only a towering figure in the Glens and a much-admired politician, he was a dear friend.
“His contribution to the party and Moyle Council, but most importantly to his community and his family, cannot be overstated and he will be much missed.
“Malachy was a man who believed in building bridges in the community and area that he loved so much and spent so much time documenting and promoting.
“To Brigid, John, Donal, Paul, Brendan, Patrick, Anne and all the extended family, I extend the thoughts and prayers of myself and my family and the SDLP as a whole,” said the party leader.
Current and former SDLP representatives from north Antrim also paid tributes.
Highlighting Mr McSparran’s enormous contribution to the life of the Glens, former MLA, Sean Farren, also said that Malachy McSparran had been a staunch supporter of SDLP principles since the party’s inception, deploring violence believing that partnership between our communities was the only way forward.
Dr Farren said: “Malachy served for several terms as an SDLP member and Chair of Moyle District Council. He firmly believed in developing cross-party and cross-community partnerships within and beyond the council.
“Malachy worked tirelessly to promote Moyle District and especially his own beloved Glens. Like few others he knew and loved the Glens, its history, its games, its folklore, its customs and traditions and he has left a fine legacy of writings covering all of those aspects of Glens life.
“On a personal level Malachy McSparran was a great support to me as a public representative in North Antrim. I was very proud to call him my friend. To his wife Brigid and family I offer my deepest condolences.”
Councillor Catherine McCambridge, who succeeded Malachy as representative of the Glens on Moyle Council, said that Malachy McSparran had been an excellent role-model.
She said: “Malachy served the people of the Glens one-hundred per cent. As Chair of the Council he guided its business with a steady hand and won considerable admiration from all sides. The Glens are the poorer for his passing.”
Ballymena Councillor and former North Antrim MLA, Declan O’Loan, said: “I had a great liking and regard for Malachy McSparran. He was an outstanding person. He was totally immersed in the life and history of the Glens and was a fine public representative. He will be much missed but fondly remembered.”
Malachy McSparran wrote a number of books, including ‘From Gigha to the Glens’, which told how his family had links to the tiny Scottish island.
He was a past Chairman of the Glens of Antrim Historical Society, and was an acknowledged expert on the local history of the Glens.
He was involved in the Cushendun Old Church project in recent years and was also prominent in GAA circles and in particular at the Cushendun Emmets club where he was President.
Just a number of days before his passing he had attended his 61st club AGM.
Archibald Malachy McSparran, late of Cloney, Cushendun, passed away on December 13. He is survived by his wife Brigid, his sons John, Donal, Paul, Brendan and Patrick and daughter Anne; his grandchildren and sisters Anne, Angela, Monica, Sr. Margaret Rose and Dorothy.
His Requiem Mass was held in Craigagh Church, Cushendun, on Thursday December 15.