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Butsy was larger than life and loved by many

FAMILIAR FIGURE: Pat ‘Butsy’ Butler always had a smile FAMILIAR FIGURE: Pat ‘Butsy’ Butler always had a smile
By Staff Reporter

BORN on September 12 1948 the late Pat ‘Butsy’ Butler has been described as a “larger than life figure” and “someone who was known and loved by many”.

Pat, who passed away on December 12 2018, was educated at St Teresa’s Primary School on the Glen Road, before moving to St Malachy’s College where he completed his secondary education.

The Glen Road man’s first job was as a compositor/printer with Pitman’s University Press. However, during these early working days, he undertook voluntary youth work within the greater West Belfast area and soon realised that this was where his future lay. Eventually Pat left Belfast for Leicester University where he achieved his degree in youth and social care, following this up with a Master’s degree from the Ulster University. Pat eventually became a youth worker in charge at St Michael’s Youth Club, Finaghy Road North, where he spent many happy years. During this time, Pat managed a number of the youth football teams, with home games being played at Woodlands playing fields. Pat’s brothers commented that to say he was “vociferous” in his coaching would be an “understatement”.

“In fact the story goes that at this time, house prices in Orchardville depreciated by 20 per cent!”

At a time when West Belfast was often in turmoil, the youth club was a haven for young people; a place where parents knew their children would be safe. Pat took this onboard and enabled the young people in his care to reach their full potential.

Pat developed an insatiable love for sport from a very early age. He joined Davitt’s GAC for a short time before transferring to St Agnes’ where he spent many happy years as both a player and manager. In the course of his time with the ‘Aggies’ Pat, along with many of the players, made those never to be forgotten trips to the continent and of course Shannon; events that proved to be hugely enjoyable and deeply spitural ventures. A serious arm break when he was 17 curtailed Pat’s playing career but he had much success in his managerial roles. Pat, affectionately known as Butsy, also loved soccer and had a long and enjoyable time playing for and supporting Dominic Savio.

During the 1980’s, Pat embraced the basketball scene and in particular St Gall’s basketball club. Pat was committed totally to this new undertaking. In fact, his brother Gerard remembers returning back to Denewood one day and discovering a very large American making himself a cup of tea. Of course Pat had not told Gerard that ‘Soupy’ Campbell would be staying for a few days – a bit of a shock. As a commentator and administrator Pat gave 100 per cent to this new venture. His famous commentary during lives games in the Andersonstown Leisure Centre is still talked about.

On the sporting front, Pat finally finished up as a member of Falls Bowling Club where he spent many happy years as a player, administrator and advisor to the long suffering groundsman. Pat eventually became the club president, something of which he was particular proud of. He also became president of the private greens – a role which again Pat embraced with diligence and total commitment. A spokesperson for Falls Bowling Club described Pat, their 106th President, as someone with a personality that “could fill the Waterfront Hall”.

“His passing has left a gap that we will not attempt to fill.”

Married to Shelia since August 19 1992, Pat lived life to the full, had a hugely positive influence on many and ultimately made a difference. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

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