Creative, cool, talented Joe Crilly passes away

Joe Crilly
Joe Crilly

One of Lurgan’s most unique, talented and creative characters, Joe Crilly, has passed away suddenly in France.

Aged just 54, he was a stunning personality who oozed imagination and charisma.

From his youth in Derrymacash, Joe stood out as ‘a character you could never forget’.

Though he had a short spell at Violet Hill in Newry, it was at St Michael’s where he got his acting bug and his writing abilities were honed.

In the early days it was music and, at his family home in Derryadd, Joe formed a punk band which was heard far across the lough.

Though he loved his music, his true desire was for acting and the stage. and he started his career with an impressive part in the Kidnap of Shergar.

His brother Kevin recalls Joe playing parts in the popular TV series The Bill where he often played the baddie.

And his talents didn’t end there. He was a prolific writer and had won much acclaim for many of his works.

He wrote for the prestigious company Tinderbox and in 1999 won the Stewart Parker New Playwright Bursary for ‘Second Hand Thunder’.

It caused quite a stir with its ‘irreverent look at life beneath the sashes in Orange County, rural mid-Ulster’.

His play On McQuillan’s Hill, was described as a ‘blackly comic melodrama about a newly released IRA prisoner who comes home, itching to find out why he was shot to ribbons by his former comrades’. It was also held in high acclaim when it featured in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre.

Based in London for the past 35 years, Joe also worked as a script writer for the BBC.

As a youth in Lurgan he was regarded as a very handsome ‘cool dude’ a description his brother Kevin said he found ‘uproariously funny’.

“He used to laugh when he heard that all the girls fancied him.”

Latterly he worked for the Peabody Trust, a charity helping people with housing issues.

Kevin described his brother as a ‘happy-go-lucky, laissez-faire’ type of guy. “I never heard him lose his temper or getting cross,” he said.

He described him also as a loving father to his only son Redmond who lived with him in London.

Long term friend and Banbridge native, Martin Doyle, Books Editor of the Irish Times, said: “Joe was a wonderful colleague at the Irish Post. He was a talented writer and a loving and dedicated father as well as great friend and great company over the years.”

Following a cremation service in Perpignan, France, there will be a special Requiem Mass for Mr Crilly in St Patrick’s Church, Derrymacash on Saturday, June 10 at 2.30pm.

Mr Crilly, the son of the late PJ and May Crilly, was the loving father of Redmond and dear brother of Kevin, Deirdre, Michael, Maura, Elizabeth and the late Marcella.