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The Association may be contacted through its Secretary,

Peter F Durnin, KC*SG, KM, GCHS, "Rosaire", Moneymore, Drogheda, Co Louth. A92 RF6F



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About me

1865- 1945.  Resided at  Hilden Cottage, outside Lisburn, had a very successful career with the Barbour organisation. He was born In Scotland of Irish parents and had 4 siblings. William, like his father before him, was engaged in the flax trade all his life. The family was originally from the Falls Road, Belfast, but settled for a time in Courtrai, the Belgian flax growing district, where William’s father James died on 8 August 1875 and the family returned home. he went to Lisburn as a boy in 1875 and was educated at St Malachy's College. McIlroy served his apprenticeship in the flax department of Barbour’s Mill at Hilden Co Antrim and in his spare time he was active with Hilden Athletic Club and played football for local team Hertford. He was appointed a flax buyer and later promoted to flax manager. With the formation of the Linen Thread Co. he was responsible for all flax purchases made by the combine from 1904 until his retirement in 1933. He was an acknowledged authority on flax and there were few superior judges of it in the British Isles. In the course of his duties he travelled to many parts of the world and spoke several languages fluently. He was a J.P. and a member of the management committee of the County Antrim Infirmary. He retired in 1933. A devout Catholic, he supported the church and institutions with numerous benefactions such as the endowment of two bursaries for church students in St Malachy's College, Belfast the building of the church of St. Mary of the Angels, Clanvaraghan, Drumaroad, Co. Down in 1937; St. Anthony and St. Anne statues, a Lourdes grotto and a Calvary grotto at St. Patrick’s, Lisburn; financing new x-ray equipment at the Mater Hospital, annual excursions for Lisburn Boys’ School. He gave the boys permission to avail of the swimming pool, at the top of the hill, behind his house. It was a real swimming pool but it was fed by a massive ballcock and supplied the mill in emergencies. During his funeral mass in St. Patrick’s in May 1945 his knight’s bicornered hat with plume and court sword reposed on the coffin. He was buried in the family grave at Holy Trinity Cemetery, Lisburn. (“Reference Hidden Gems; forgotten people”:  A joint project of the Federation for Ulster Local Studies and the Federation of Local History Societies)