Local historian Oliver Burns passes away suddenly

Oliver Burns
Oliver Burns

Local amateur historian Oliver Burns passed away suddenly at his home in Lurgan yesterday.

Mr Burns (aged 77) from Grattan Street, had been a lifelong GAA fan and member of St Peter’s GAA Club.

Oliver Burns

Oliver Burns

His nephew Declan McKerr said: “He was a great man for the Gealic League, and he took local primary school children on tour around the historic Dougher Cemetery.

“He was a great historian and had agreat love for Armagh GAA and especially his local club St Peter’s.

“He was a very generous man and great to his family,” he said.

Mr Burns was the dearly beloved son of the late Francis and Elizabeth Burns 5 Grattan Street, and much loved brother of Malachy and the late Joe, Hugh, Francis, Jim, Patricia and Phyllis R.I.P,

Jim McIlmurray with Oliver Burns

Jim McIlmurray with Oliver Burns

His funeral is tomorrow (Saturday) at 8 45am from his nephew Declan McKerr’s home 46 Killough Gardens, Taghnevan to St Peter’s Church for 9 30am Requiem Mass,

Interment afterwards in St Colman’s Cemetery,

His passing is very deeply regretted by his loving brother, sister-in-law Phil, nephews, nieces and family circle.

Friend Jim McIlmurray recalls working closely with Oliver compiling the collection of old photographs of Lurgan many know today as far back as 1975.

“Both of us had a shared interest in photography and we began to collate a collection of photographs of the town through the decades with the help of the general public and several appeals published in the Lurgan Mail,” said Jim.

“Many of the now familiar photographs of Lurgan streets in the 1970’s are in fact our work as we photographed the comparison.

“When the late John Finnegan died in the 1970’s, Oliver and I purchased his darkroom equipment and began to print the thousands of negatives John had amassed as a professional photographic over the years.

“We transferred our collection of photographs onto transparencies (slides) as far back as 1976 and this being the pre video age, the Old Lurgan slide show became a popular event in town.

“We held shows almost weekly in local clubs, the town hall and North Street Gaelic league of which we both were members. A number of local charities benefited from these events.

“The images of Lurgan were projected onto a very large white screen, I had it made by the Apollo Window Blind company in Annesbourgh.

“Oliver and I gave a running commentary on the history of the streets, people and buildings being projected.

“I suppose this was an age of innocence and there was no technology, our darkrooms were two bathrooms in Brownlow Terrace and Grattan Street!

“Oliver’s interest in local history was also very much hands on. Over 1977 -78, Oliver along with the late Rosemary Nelson (nee Magee) the late Frankie Griffin and myself restored and repaired many of the plots in the Dougher cemetery that had sacrum to the elements.

“A few years ago Oliver and I finally got around to something we talked about for over 20 years, to visit Germany together. I am glad to say we did this.

“Oliver will be remembered in Freecrow as someone always willing to help others. His interest was history, local, Irish and the American Civil War and the GAA.

“Lurgan is a lot poorer today with the passing of Oliver, we will remain indebted to him for preserving the history of this town much of which would have been lost only for him.”