‘Kind and generous Clarence always goes the extra mile’

City Hotel staff members Trisha Breslin and Judith Ophert presenting the Dad of the year award to Clarence McElhinney.  Included in photo are Geraldine Gallagher (Derry Journal Promotions Executive), Linda and Carmel McElhinney.  (1506JB71)

City Hotel staff members Trisha Breslin and Judith Ophert presenting the Dad of the year award to Clarence McElhinney. Included in photo are Geraldine Gallagher (Derry Journal Promotions Executive), Linda and Carmel McElhinney. (1506JB71)

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Glack man, Clarence McElhinney is a man of few words but, according to his children, he is never short on kindness. 

The 68-year-old, who lives in the Foreglen with his wife of almost 40 years, Carmel, was yesterday crowned Derry Journal ‘Dad of The Year’.

Clarence McElhinney and wife Carmel with children Clare, Keith, Linda and Barry.  (1506JB68)

Clarence McElhinney and wife Carmel with children Clare, Keith, Linda and Barry. (1506JB68)

“I’m delighted surely,” the dad-of-four told the ‘Journal’. “It’s a nice thing to happen.” 

Daughter, 30-year-old Linda nominated her dad because “he’s just the best”. 

“No matter what you need, or when, if you ask daddy he always helps,” says Linda. 

Clarence is also dad to Linda’s sister Clare, and brothers Barry and Keith, and grandad to Conan.

Little Mary Claire McElhinney who passed away 33yrs ago aged 20 months.  (1506JB70)

Little Mary Claire McElhinney who passed away 33yrs ago aged 20 months. (1506JB70)

“When I was a teenager, because of my diabetes, I rebelled but he never turned his back on me. He was always there for me,” said Linda. “Daddy is always checking on me, making sure I have enough Lucozade and food in my fridge and, I mean, I’m 30! I think he’ll still be doing the same when I’m 40.”

She added: “He’s kind and generous, just brilliant. He’s the best.” 

As for Clarence, he’s chuffed with the accolade, but modestly says he’s always tried to do right by his children and treat them equally. 

“Clarence always goes that extra mile,” says Carmel. “Whether it’s putting in a floor, or fixing a burst pipe, daddy always helps, no matter what.” 

Clarence found out he’d won the coveted title on Wednesday, which poignantly is the anniversary of the couple’s daughter, Mary Clare who died tragically in an accident 33 years ago when she was just 20 months-old. 

“It was rough,” says Clarence, with Carmel adding: “Her anniversary is always a special day for us, so I thought to myself, ‘something nice has happened to Clarence on her anniversary’.”

When Linda told Clarence she’d entered him in the competition, he thought ‘no chance’, but was delighted when he found out he’d won. 

Son Barry says his father, who loves gardening, is always watching over his children, and if he or his siblings ever have problems, they turn to him. 

“He’s very kind, and funny and he really deserves this,” said 38-year-old Barry. “He’s a very good father and we’re all very proud of him.” 

Clarence will be treated to a sumptuous Father’s Day lunch at the City Hotel, and will also receive Belleek Living Mother of Pearl tie-pin and cufflinks.