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Shock at sudden death of well-known barman

By Evan Short

The family of a well known barman who died suddenly on Monday have spoken of their beloved ‘big gentleman’ who ‘got to everyone’ with his kindness.

Twenty three year old Joe Burns, who worked as an electrician by day and in The Chester in the evenings, took ill in the early hours of Monday morning (July 14) in his flat beside his parents’ home, off the Whitewell Road.

The popular Pineview man was rushed to hospital with suspected heart failure but doctors were unable to revive him.

Joe’s sister, Jeanette Burns, told the North Belfast News that despite working as an electrician Joe had kept his job as a barman because he loved meeting people.

“He was such a people person that he loved going to work in The Chester. He had worked in the Bellevue and then in Dukes for a while but The Chester was his favourite. He loved it and that’s why he went back. He loved going to work.”

Joe’s aunt, Louise Burns, said the outpouring of grief apparent this week through social media pages, was a reflection of the esteem in which he was held.

“You just have to look on Facebook. Everyone is saying he was a big gentleman and that’s exactly what he was. He always had a big smile on his face.”

Joe’s father, also Joe, said the family has been shocked and touched at the number of people who have called to the house.

“There have been big men here crying. He got to everybody. People – complete strangers – are coming up to me to say they are sorry. I went up to the Bellevue and there were five pints behind the bar for me from people who were up there, just because they knew Joe.

“His friends too have all rallied round. There are about 10 to 20 lads who hung about together and they have all been calling to the house to stay with him. He was like a brother to them, they are all best friends.”

Although the exact cause of his death is not yet know Joe was a keen gym goer and the family fear he may have died due to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). He also suffered from asthma.

“The doctors say it was heart related,” said Joe Snr. “The heart has been sent to London for tests. We think it was something like SADS but we won’t know for four weeks.”

Joe’s mother Una said she feared his asthma may have played some part in his death.

“He suffered very badly from asthma but he always pushed himself. He would come home from the gym and you could tell he had been pushing himself but he loved training.”

The devaststed mother said she will desperately miss her only son.

“He was the only boy so he was spoiled, but not in a bad way. He was about to become an uncle and had told his sister he wanted the child one night a week. That’s the sort of person he was.

“You couldn’t have fallen out with him.”

Joe’s sister Fionnuala said he had so much to look forward to.

“He would have made an amazing uncle. He was in such a happy place too because he had met the love of his life, Sinead.”

Joe Snr said the family are looking at setting up a foundation in his name in honour of the charity work he did during his life.

“He was very charitable and a bit later we are going to set up a foundation in his name because so many people have said to us about the charity work he did.

“He loved getting involved in charities, he took part in a charity boxing match for the Children’s Hospice in the Chester last year. He really loved getting involved in any charity event that was going on.”

He also said the family were grateful for the support offered over the past couple of days by Joe’s employers.

“We want to thank everyone who has called, and especially Eamon Diamond who owns the Chester and the Bellevue. They have given us so much support in the last couple of days and have been very kind.”


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