‘Gentleman Jamie’ laid to rest as town grieves

by Sylvia Pownall

SKERRIES came to a standstill yesterday to bid a final farewell to Jamie McAllister (right) whose body was recovered from the sea on Saturday after an ill-fated fishing trip.
The 28-year-old, who went out on a boat to catch razor clams with his uncle Kevin, had offered to fill in at the last minute for another fisherman who was unavailable.
Popular Jamie was buried at Ardla Cemetery following Funeral Mass at St Patrick’s Church yesterday, where mourners heard what a well-liked “gentleman” he was.
On Sunday, 100 friends and family gathered on the beach for a fireworks display in memory of the young man, who was set to enrol as an apprentice electrician.
His mum, Elaine, said it had been “one big long nightmare” since the boat he was on capsized on Friday afternoon metres from the shore.
Jamie’s uncle, Keith McAllister, was rescued and treated in hospital but the 28-year-old’s body was not recovered until the following day.
Elaine said Sunday’s emotional tribute – which saw fireworks set off, fires lit and Jamie’s name spelled out in candles across the sand in celebration of his life – had provided her with some comfort.
She said: “You don’t expect to have to bury your kids. I’m just going to miss him. He put a huge smile on everyone’s face. We didn’t realise how popular he was until Sunday night.”
Elaine’s boss at the local pizzeria, Xhemajil Abdullahu, nicknamed ‘Jimmy’, donated all proceeds from a half-price fish day promotion yesterday to Jamie’s family.
He wrote on Facebook: “My deepest condolences to Jamie’s family and especially to his mom, who is a member of our staff.
“He was just a gentleman, and no one would have anything bad to say about him. It’s hard to find anyone like him.”
Jamie’s cousin Danielle said the support from his friends had helped the family through the tragedy.
She added: “His brother, Ryan, they were best friends. They did everything together. When you saw one you would see the other. They were like two peas in a pod. He is absolutely devastated.”
By Tuesday evening, an online fund to help pay for Jamie’s funeral had already exceeded its €5,000 goal by almost €3,000 with €7,775 raised.
A poem written by his pal, James Reid, will also be inscribed on a plaque and replicas sold to raise funds for his family.
An extract from it reads: ‘The heart of our little town has been shattered.
‘It goes to show how much you really mattered.
‘But now you’re gone up to a better place.
‘To take over heaven with your cheeky face.’
Jamie’s heartbroken parents, Elaine and Troy, sister Ela and brother Ryan welcomed a steady stream of mourners to the family home in Mourne View on Tuesday evening, where his body was reposing.
An investigation into Jamie’s death got under way earlier this week.

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