We regret to announce the death of long-term Corrymeela member of staff Desie McLernon. His funeral will take place on Thursday, February 18, at 10.00am in St Patrick and St Brigid’s Church, Moyle Road, Ballycastle.
Ronnie Millar, former Centre Director writes
Desie McLernon epitomised the spirit of Corrymeela. What a huge loss for his wife Rae, his family, the town of Ballycastle, and the centre.
Some of you knew Desie much longer and better than I did, and have your own experiences and stories about him. I only got to know him well since 2005.
He had an amazing tool-kit of skills, and there was wasn't much that he couldn't attend to around the centre. He was a touchstone for the volunteers, and always showed his care for them in big ways and small. I remember his sixtieth birthday, when the volunteer team decorated the House foyer and held a surprise celebration with a beautifully dressed mannequin, which gave him a good laugh.
I appreciated his wisdom and his humor. I think he enjoyed the public banter with me at meetings as much as I did back with him. He often had something quite profound to say, and was always very kind, honest, and down-to-earth. What a strong, reliable, and loving human being!
He knew every inch of the site, and had a hand in the building and up-keep of every unit. How many hundreds of young ACE workers and youngsters around the country did he mentor over the years? I was thinking that he must have cut every blade of grass as he spun around in that mower. It was wonderful to work alongside him in his role as Clerk of Works for Coventry; contractors and architects all paid attention when Desie spoke. One of his last projects was in the kitchen - he was moving something for the new oven, and he voluntarily came in on the evenings to lessen the disruption.
He loved the Croi. I loved it when he came to worship. His quietness grounded us in the presence of God. I remember one Monday morning staff worship led by two visitors from Jerusalem - Sheikh Bukhari and Rabbi Eliyahu McLean - at one stage, I peeked up during the chanting and swaying, and saw Desie really getting into it.
He loved to go fishing in the summer, and occasionally took some of us along. What a privilege to sail with him up along the coast, and on the other side of Rathlin. On the day of the 2008 Summer Festival, he went out all afternoon catching mackerel, then came back, cleaned them, and barbecued them for the hundreds of visitors to eat that night at dinner. The amazing thing was that there was enough fish for everyone, right down to the very last person. It was like a parable right out of the New Testament.
Woodworking was another of his hobbies, and when he finished a three-year project to restore his family’s grandfather clock, he proudly unveiled it at the centre. Remembering that day, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to laugh and a time to weep, a time to dance and a time to mourn.
I'll never forget him. His deep, blue eyes, and lovely smile. I have an abiding image of him in his blue short-sleeved shirt, shirt-tail hanging out, speedily heading across the site, with a spring in his step, to repair a leak, or fix a broken tile in the cottages. And then back to base again for a cup of tea ("that's okay, I'll pour the milk"). He just loved problem-solving and helping people out.
We’ll all miss him, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time.