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Brendan Sharvin 1925-2021

23rd February 2021
Brendan Sharvin – kindness combined with lightning wit
Brendan Sharvin – kindness combined with lightning wit

The death of Brendan Sharvin of Strangford village at the age of 95 has taken from among us a remarkable man who was a leading figure in the development of sailing and boating in the southern part of Strangford Lough, a very special man of enormous charm and ability who combined a lightning wit with genuine kindness.

Born into the family pub-grocery in the village near the quay – later it became the Cuan Bar, but everyone knew it as Sharvin's - he was a host and entertainer of world-class, a master joke and story-teller whose beautifully-timed and appropriate anecdotes well-matched anything that even the most humorous of his many customers could produce, such that he was renowned as the best raconteur in Lecale.

But there was a quietly serious side to him as well. He reckoned that continuing to develop the neighbourhood's recreational interaction with the sea was essential, and he was a leading light in encouraging racing with the local punts fitted with sails which made up in the initial "dinghy fleet" of the 1946-founded Strangford Sailing Club and was then active in the group which own-built a fleet of fourteen Wychcraft sailing dinghies in the late 1950s.

It's 1959, and the completion of Wychcraft sailing dinghy no 14 has to be marked with a celebratory stop outside Sharvin's, the beating heart of Strangford village.   Photo: Courtesy SSC  It's 1959, and the completion of Wychcraft sailing dinghy no 14 has to be marked with a celebratory stop outside Sharvin's, the beating heart of Strangford village. Photo: Courtesy SSC 

With the major up-grading of the car ferry across the Narrows to Portaferry, the boat-mooring space in Strangford Creek became much more restricted, and the Club – somewhat reluctantly – moved its operations base to the shores of Audley's Roads at nearby Castleward, where it now thrives.

But Brendan, having given many years to the family business, decided on a change of direction, and having sold the pub and stores, went to work in the Public Service in Downpatrick, eventually attaining a position of authority in the Housing Executive, which fitted well with his personal inclination for fulfilling a helpful role in society.

Strangford village, Brendan Sharvin's home for all of his long life.Strangford village, Brendan Sharvin's home for all of his long life

Yet although he continued to live in Strangford, working from Downpatrick altered his sailing focus, and he became involved with the sailing cruiser fleet at the Quoile Yacht Club in the southwest corner of Strangford Lough, which had been developing rapidly with new big-boat facilities immediately seaward of the 1957-constructed Quoile Barrier.

For many years he was a regular shipmate from QYC with Colin Crichton on a variety of boats, starting with a Fred Parker-designed 26ft Mystere and graduating through several craft on which the two longtime crewmates cruised almost every summer weekend, with the Isle of Man a favourite destination among many ports.

In time, however, Brendan moved on to his own boat, a twin-keeled Westerly, and at the same time his organisational ability and willingness for voluntary work had been noted, and he was steadily moving up the management and committee structure of Quoile YC.

Nevertheless, he'd been retired from the day job for some time when he became a popular QYC Commodore twenty-five years ago. But in Brendan Sharvin's case, "active retirement" was inadequate to describe his continuing enthusiasm and all-round involvement at the age of 70, and his style of running meetings made them events to be cherished.

A secret place. Quoile Yacht Club's base is a peaceful havenA secret place. Quoile Yacht Club's base is a peaceful haven

That a man with such a wide circle of friends and a noted public persona should also have a profoundly fulfilled family life was almost a surprise to some, but his long and happy marriage to Agnes was blessed with six children who in turn have made them grandparents and great-grandparents.

And while we mourn the loss of someone who was great company ashore and afloat, and an able man in a boat with it, equally we recall those precious moments of long ago when you might sail into Strangford village on a quiet midweek summer evening, knowing that as you ambled up the quay to Sharvin's, the sound of laughter would be heard from within before you'd gone through the open door. Our heartfelt condolences are with Brendan Sharvin's family and his many friends, he was indeed a lovely man.

WMN

Published in News Update
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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