Reverend Noel Agnew passes away

I was very sorry to learn this morning of the death of the Reverend Noel Agnew.

Reverend Noel Agnew
Reverend Noel Agnew

He was the chaplain for the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland.  He was a well known, highly respected and loved figure in the local community. Noel was a big football fan, and followed Burnley F.C.

On Friday 11th September, the retired Minister had a heart attack following practice for the Cookstown 100 motorcycle races.  He died on the 30th September.

It was only a few months ago, on the 28th May 2020, that Noel had left a comment on this website. On my page on Tamlaght’s long-serving preacher, the Reverend Rainey, I had written that the preacher was 60 years at Tamlaght.  But Noel updated the page, by adding:

I think someone has given you the wrong detail – John Joe as we called him was 59 years in church and only retired when, having handed in his retirement notice, he realised he hadn’t fulfilled his ambition to do 60 years and was not allowed by the Ballymena Presbytery to withdraw it.

He wasn’t too happy about that and banned anyone from the Presbytery from taking part in his funeral. I remember it well – Norman McAuley and Alistair Dunlop presided at the service in Union Road, Magherafelt.

I could tell you so many stories about that man if you’re interested in knowing more.

We subsequently spoke briefly in email and established contact via messenger. He was also subscribed to One Irish Rover. He emailed me one day saying: “William, had a great time this afternoon reminiscing about ‘John Joe’ with 2 friends. He was a legend.”

Sadly, he never did get around to telling me all those old stories of the life and times of the Reverend Rainey and the local area. RIP Noel.


Many thanks to Iris Service for alerting me to the tribute service which was posted on youtube.  See below.


"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

4 thoughts on “Reverend Noel Agnew passes away

  1. I first heard of Noel Agnew, the headmaster at Culcrow School. I came from Aghadowey, and our neighbour’s children went there and adored him.

    Later on I would have seen him at youth meetings and parties around the churches and in particular, touring with Pastures Green in the late 70s. When my dear friend Nancy Brownlow died in an accident at an early age, she was much missed as a member of the group and I remember Noel telling on stage of the need for young people to consider where they stood with God, as life could be snatched away so quickly.

    I also remember him singing in Ballycastle Diamond with the Lammas Fair outreach team. My husband remembers a somewhat younger Noel, on the football field, (hubby played for Tamlaght Reserves) and always calls him Joe Baker.

    The service of thanksgiving for Noel’s life is on YouTube and paints a perfect picture of Noel. A great man of God now singing in heaven.

    1. Iris, so good to hear from you. I hope you are all keeping well in these difficult times.

      I hadn’t realised that Noel had been in charge at Culcrow school, nor that he had played football in younger days. Where does the time go to.

      The tributes to him indicate a very special person. Thanks for alerting me to the youtube service. I have now posted it above.

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