Tributes paid to much-loved local character and personality, Mr Terence McKeag BEM
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Mr McKeag was born on 2 April 1942 in Ballyrobert, Craigavad, County Down. He was married to Heather for 48 years and they had three children, Simon, Neville and Hilary.
For well over half a century, equestrian expert Terence McKeag has been a familiar figure at all the major shows and events across Ireland.
He received the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for services to Agriculture and to Equestrian Sport in Northern Ireland in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in January 2022.
Mr McKeag was no stranger to presentations, having received a prestigious award from the Royal Dublin Society’s Equestrian Committee in acknowledgement of his significant contribution to the annual Dublin Horse Show and to equestrianism in Ireland.
He was a long serving life member of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) having stewarded at Balmoral Show for over 50 years and was presented with an honorary award by the Princess Royal for his services.
Mr McKeag devoted his life to equestrian activities and, whilst residing at Fairview, Ballygilbert, he hosted the North Down Harriers Point-to-Point for many years, as well as an Irish Horse Trials Society annual event.
He was an amateur point-to-point rider and competed successfully on his own horse Enfield Rebel.
Mr McKeag was also a past Master of North Down Harriers and was responsible for instigating the New Year’s Day hunt at the Olde Inn Crawfordsburn.
He was a lifelong member and elder of Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church and an honorary member of North Down Rotary Club.
Joan Cunnigham, Saintfield Christmas Charity Ride and Saintfield Horse Show director, commented: “It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of our great friend Terence McKeag.
“Terence was the life and soul of both the Santa Ride and Saintfield Horse Show.
“The first Santa Ride was in 2007 and Terence entertained the crowds of people who gathered in Saintfield from then until 2019 when he became ill.
“Terence received a presentation of an original Leo Casement painting at the launch of the 2019 Saintfield Christmas Charity Ride to thank him for his services throughout the years to both the Santa Ride and Saintfield Horse Show. He was joined by his very good friend Hugo Duncan at the ride in 2019.”
Joan continued: “Every year Terence welcomed the ‘real Santa’ in his magnificent carriage and the multitude of Santas that followed behind.
“He kept everyone in Saintfield in stitches laughing – he was a true natural comedian and larger than life character.
“At Saintfield Horse Show every year he commentated the ‘Donkey Derby’ and, again, the crowds adored him and quite often joined in singing Delaney's Donkey.
“The craic was mighty when Terence had the microphone in his hand.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Heather and all the family.
“May God sustain you all through this very trying time.
“Terence we will all miss you so much and never forget you. Thank you so much for all you’ve done.”
North Down DUP MLA Stephen Dunne has paid tribute to the “much-loved local character and personality”.
Mr Dunne said: “I am very saddened to learn that a dear friend, Terence McKeag, has passed away.
“Terence was an incredible character and amazing personality and was loved and highly respected by so many.
“I have many great memories with Terence who was ‘Mr Entertainer’ across the country for so long, including locally within the Craigantlet area which he called home.
“Terence was a very well known Gentleman, and was often Master of Ceremonies at many functions along with his good friend Hugo Duncan.
“Terence was a man of many talents and was equally at home speaking with Royals, or on stage ‘telling yarns’ at charity country music concerts.
“During his life he was an entertainer, musician, compere, farmer, RUAS Official, businessman, involved in the equestrian world, a proud Orangeman and fervent unionist and so much more.
“Terence will be very sadly missed by his family and many friends.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Heather and the whole McKeag family circle. God Bless.”
Mr McKeag is sadly missed by his wife Heather, his three children Simon, Neville and Hilary and three grandchildren, Finlay, Avy and Eben.