Development & Alumni Relations Office 


George Luke Gillespie, BA, DIP-ED (died 12 June 2021, aged 87)

Full obituary available in The News Letter


George Luke Gillespie was born on 13 September 1933 and brought up in the townland of Ballylummin, Ahoghill, the eldest child of David and Maggie Gillespie, née Craig. He grew up with his two younger siblings, Lila (born in 1935) and Roy (1939) and often reflected that it had been a happy home.


The young George attended Longstone Primary School and showed academic promise from an early stage. He was proud to be one of the early beneficiaries of Butler's Education Act in 1944, which had extended academic opportunity to the working classes. Though from a humble background, he earned a scholarship to Ballymena Academy and started there with his lifelong friend Bobby Bonar - who felt that he and George starting at the Academy were like a couple of country gulls among the elite. They both thrived at the Academy and progressed to university and teaching careers, and both later wrote a history of their respective local Presbyterian churches.


George read the Arts at Queen’s University Belfast. Upon completion of his primary degree in 1955, he studied for a Diploma in Education at the same institution. He met his future wife June Lowe when she was a nurse training in Belfast while he was a student at Queen’s. They married in 1957 and had 58 years sharing life together as a close couple.


After graduation at Queens, George secured a job offer teaching in Central Primary School, Carrickfergus following a cricket match in which he participated with the late DJ McCartney, principal of Central Primary. These were the days before interviews and assessment panels!  After one year of teaching at Central, George moved to Larne to commence teaching at the now Larne High School and lived in Larne for the rest of his life. He was one of the original teachers at Greenland Intermediate School (now Larne High School) when it opened in 1957, where he taught History and Geography. He became Vice Principal in 1977, remaining so until he retired in 1993.


But he also made time to pursue recreational interests - he played cricket for Galgorm and later for Larne, played rugby for Randalstown, was secretary of Larne Historical Society, read and collected many books, listened to music - everything from Ulster Scots accordion bands to Gospel Hymns and Psalms and BBC3 Classical - took a keen interest in local politics, and was very involved in the life and work of his local church at Craigy Hill.


George Gillespie is survived by his son, David, daughter-in-law, Karen, grandchildren Peter, Alistair (and his wife Kirsteen) and James and great grandchildren Angus and Esther.


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