Earlier today I got the sad news that a good friend, Paddy Hanna, had died. Although older than me I have known Paddy for years but it wasn't until this past 20 years we'd have serious - and not so serious! - yarns.
Paddy was married to Peggy O'Neill and like many newly married couples they set up home and hoped where they settled it would be safe to raise a family. However, they were put out of their home in East Belfast by unionists and were forced to flee to a safer area.
This was a turbulent time for many nationalists in 1969 and hundreds of families were burnt out. Peggy and Paddy moved to chalets in the Whiterock but in 1971 they moved once again, this time to a house in Suffolk Court in the 'top estate'.
They raised four children, Margaret, Paula, Patrick and Liza. Patrick was knocked down and killed by a death driver on the Andersonstown Road in 1999 and this had a lasting impact on the rest of the family.
Paddy was heavily involved in the Donegal Celtic football and social club and over the years he saw many changes, both on the field and the club rooms. His health hadn't been too good in recent months and it was unfortunate he wasn't able to get over to see the refurbishment that took place last year.
Paddy fought his illness as he fought other things in his life such as internment and as his family told me today he was a 'hard man'- not a hard man in the sense of being a fighter but hard in his fight against his illness.
To Peggy, Margaret, Paula, Liza and extended family I send condolences on behalf of myself and his many friends.
Paddy's funeral will take place from his home to Oliver Plunkett church at 9am this coming Saturday. We would ask those attending to social distance.