An appreciation by Liam Kelly
John Clifford had a wonderful talent for writing poetry about the land that he loved, in and around Larne. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, he was hired out to work on a farm when he was just a teenager. His poem, Larne Hirin' Fair, was written from the heart as John had experienced the whole process of being hired out himself.
He spent many years working in England where he continued to educate himself and hone his skills as an actor. In fact, he appeared in several films and on stage during his life.
Upon retirement he returned to Larne and began a new career as Chief Librarian in Larne's Carnegie Library. He helped to found the Larne and District Folklore Society in 1968 and the Larne and District Historical Society in 1971.
As his short career as Chief Librarian came to an end with the construction of a new Library, John was appointed Curator of the Historical Centre by Larne Council and began a new career when almost seventy years old. He worked tirelessly in that post, building up a collection of artefacts for the Centre, helped by members of the Society.
I often said that with his energy, he would have put a man half his age to shame. Organising exhibitions and two re-enactments of Larne Hirin' Fair were part of his workload, which he completed with relish and of course his talent for composing poetry continued right up until 1983 when after a short illness the great man died.
I still miss John Clifford even after all these years. I know that he would have been delighted with our Memories of Larne site. May he rest in peace.
John Clifford reads extracts from "Larne Hirin' Fair" in a BBC video aided by Matt Meharg.