I travelled to Northern Ireland on Tuesday 17th May for the funeral service in St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Carrickfergus of an old friend of mine, John McLoughlin.
In my Sealink days back in the 1970s/1980s, John was our agent in Northern Ireland and he also had the linesmen and the robust little harbour tugs in Larne harbour which, often in heavy weather conditions, helped our ship’s berth safely.
His firm provided a range of services including – mooring, towage, pilot boat services, sea bed levelling, safety boats and crew transfers at sea.
John had been involved in ships from an early age, living in Sailortown, Belfast – one of a family of ten, he was soon helping tie up the ships berthing in Belfast. Over the years, he gained many practical skills, but he was also a fine businessman. After the formation of his own company, he built up a very flexible and efficient fleet of work boats, harbour tugs and other marine plants providing a reliable and efficient service to all the firm’s customers.
In my own time with Sealink and Sea Containers in ferry operations between Northern Ireland and Scotland/England, he helped me out of many a tight spot, having a huge breadth of knowledge and contacts. In a very tough competitive sector, his firm built up an excellent and well earned reputation for dependability, efficiency, quality of service, loyalty and integrity.
In recent years, the firm had invested heavily in two newbuilds designed by Macduff Ship Design Ltd and built by Macduff Shipyards Ltd – these are fine highly versatile craft. The first of these ‘NESS’ class tugs was named Sally McLoughlin after John’s late wife. John, a great family man, took great pride in his fleet and all who worked for the firm.
The number of mourners at his ‘Service of Thanksgiving’ in the beautiful old St Nicholas’ Parish Church testified to the affection and respect in which he was held. He will be greatly missed.