Grand old man of Loughgall dies on his 107th birthday

editorial image

THE grand old man of Loughgall, Jacob Marshall, who was believed to be the oldest man in Ireland, died last Thursday on his 107th birthday.

Mr Marshall was the second oldest of a family of 10, and was the last survivor. He passed away at the Loughgall home which he shared with his son Sam and family.

His family wishes to place on record he was ‘saved’ 80 years ago at Ballymegarney Methodist (now Free Presbyterian) Church and that he and a friend Jackie Orr built the nearby Derryhubbert Mission Hall from corrigated iron almost 80 years ago. It still stands in its original form.

Born during the reign of Edward VII, it is worth noting that during Jacob’s childhood, the first silent movie was screened, the Titanic sank, the Panama Canal opened, the Model T Ford hit the road, the First World War raged and penicillin was discovered. He remembered many of those moments of history.

Mr Marshall was a self-employed engineer-blacksmith, following the traditions started by his own father. And in the mists of time, he converted an old 1924 Morris Cowley into a mowing machine, using it on contracts around the countryside. Such was the quality of his work that it is still in working order.

He worked right into his 90s, his last piece of work being a model threshing machine which was replicated full-size by friends and is on exhibit in various vintage shows and rallies.

He drove a car into his late 90s, his last motor being a Ford Escort. He used to drive off stating he was “away to look after the old folk!” Even the fitting of a pacemaker in 2009 and a hip operation early last year failed to quell his zest for life.

It was finally old age which took him, and the family was by his bedside when - in Sam’s words - “the bedclothes stopped moving and God called him Home to celebrate his 107th birthday with Him”.

Mr Marshall’s family was a large part of his life. He married Frances Mary (May) from Stewartstown at Brigh Presbyterian in June 1939, and they were soul mates until her death in May 2002 at the age of 88. They were together a total of 63 years.

He leaves a family of five - George, Olive, Ruth, Sam and Maynard - as well as 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

The funeral service was in his home at 56 Derrycrew Road, Loughgall, followed by a service at Loughgall Presbyterian Church (Cloveneden), where he worshipped all his life. Burial was in the adjoining churchyard.

Jacob Marshall’s favourite Biblical text was - ‘The Lord of hosts is with us: the God of Jacob is our refuge’.