All the family of the late Basil Graham were very uplifted by the large turn out of people for his funeral in Enniskillen on November 18.

Despite Basil not having lived in Fermanagh for more than 23 years, many friends and neighbours from the past, even from over 60 years ago, attended St. Macartin’s Cathedral – where he had previously been a long-term parishioner – to bid him farewell and pay their respects along with extended family members.

A particularly moving gesture of a guard of honour by Fire Service personnel was warmly appreciated by the family.

They are very grateful to the firefighters and to Keith Elliott, Funeral Director, for instigating this and his careful handling of the arrangements.

Basil Graham, son of Maud (nee Corrigan) and Thomas Palmer Graham, was born at the family farm in Knockmanoul, Ballinamallard in May, 1929.

He was the last surviving member of a family of nine children.

Due to having the same name as his father, he became known in the family as Basil.

Basil’s early life was spent learning all the skills of farming in the early 20th Century, and from an early age he could handle a turf shovel or scythe like, in the words of Seamus Heaney, “By God, the old man could handle a spade, just like his old man”.

Basil attended Mullaghmeen Public Elementary School. When he was around 13 years of age, during World War 2, his father – who owned two Clydesdale horses – and two elder brothers were contracted to draw cartloads of soil away from Saint Angelo in order to make the airfield.

While this was going on, Basil and his remaining siblings were left to tend the farm.

Amongst Basil’s tasks was the daily delivery of milk churns to the creamery in Ballinamallard, two miles away.

This he did with his mother, on the pony and trap, and he missed out on his education as a consequence.

Basil later resumed schooling at Enniskillen Model School. After leaving school, he went at 15 years of age to take on the work of a farmer, Andy Elliott, who was incapacitated due to illness. Basil ran the small farm for him.

Once he got his driving license, he began driving for Gracey’s Farmfeed store, and Basil held varying HGV driving jobs over the years.

He particularly enjoyed driving his boss in the Armstrong Siddeley car. From his youth, Basil loved driving, both motorcycles and cars.

He drove a Triumph Tiger Cub motorbike and used to travel with his future wife, Florence, on a Royal Enfield Bullet.

No distance deterred them, and on one occasion they set off from Enniskillen to Basil’s family in Limavady with a pet piglet in a box on the petrol tank.

En route, a gravelly road took the wheels from under them, and it took half an hour to catch the piglet – however, catch it they did, and they continued their journey undeterred, with the piglet reaching its intended destination.

Basil was initially one of the few car owners when living in Mill Street, and he was often relied on in emergencies.

On one occasion he was called upon to take a neighbour to hospital with acute appendicitis, just in time to avoid a serious outcome.

Over the years, Basil took pride in his motors, with various memorable photos in the family album from the times of his Ford 8 onwards.

Also many memories are recorded in the photo albums of happy times on holidays with his family.

These were in Ireland, Britain and Europe, and he especially treasured getting to visit his brother Victor and family in Canada.

When Taylor Woods’ factory opened in the late 1940s, Basil got a job as a machinist, and it was here where he met Florence, his wife of 67 years, who passed away almost exactly three years ago.

Basil and Florence started married life in a gate lodge which still stands adjacent to the Cross Cemetery, where Basil has been buried alongside Florence.

After a couple of years, the growing family moved to Mill Street, Enniskillen, and then in 1967 to a more spacious home at Fortlea, just up the road.

Basil was known as a very obliging neighbour, called upon for numerous odd jobs which he willingly fulfilled.

From the mid-1950s, for 25 years, he worked part-time as a fireman, along with his day job, and got his Long Service medal.

Basil’s most recent employment was with the Northern Ireland Water Service in varying roles, and he remained there for 20 years.

He really enjoyed this work and the camaraderie with his colleagues.

A particularly frightening event nearly cost Basil his life when the arm of a crane he was operating hit an overhead high-tension wire.

He was hit by 14,000 volts, and survived to tell the tale, apparently having had his heart stopped by the voltage, and restarted by accidentally touching the lorry as he fell.

After retirement, Basil continued to keep busy, and put much energy into helping his son, Nigel, build the flat extension next to Nigel’s home outside Portadown.

Basil and Florence moved into the flat more than 20 years ago. For a time, Basil helped at Tartaraghan Parish, opening and locking the church.

After Florence needed to move into nursing care, Basil continued to live independently until three years ago, when risks with his mobility necessitated residential care, and then more advanced nursing care.

Early in November, Basil had a fall that caused him to fracture his spine, and he further developed pneumonia.

This unfortunately was a challenge his body could not overcome, and he passed away with his family around him on November 14.

Basil is survived by his five children and their spouses: John and Helen, Vera and Ray, Edwin and Mahvash, David and Kathryn, and Nigel and Paula.

He had 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

They all greatly appreciated the tremendous presence and support at the funeral service of so many family, friends, ex-colleagues, the Rev. Hilliard from Tartaraghan, Dean Hall, and the special input of the organist and choir of St. Macartin’s Cathedral.