Seamus Coyle, Derry - An Appreciation

The late Seamus Coyle.
The late Seamus Coyle.

Seamus Coyle, accountant, cultural promoter of all things Irish and of his native city Derry, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and gentlest of friends died suddenly in Chicago on 9th February 2014.

The news of his death was received with great shock and sadness in Derry, not only among his family members, but also among the wider circle of friends who had got to know Seamus and his wife Kathi over the past couple of years. Some of those were renewing a friendship which had begun back in the 1960s when Seamus had been a pupil at St. Columb’s College.

Seamus was born sixty three years ago in Derry. Originally from Riverview Terrace in Waterside and then Beechwood Avenue, Seamus was the eldest of a family of six. He was the son of Molly (Nee Deeney) and Terence Coyle, highly respected and devoted parents who passed on their exemplary faith and values to all of their family.

Seamus was educated at St. Columb’s College before moving on to UCD where he attained a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

While still a student in Dublin Seamus met his beautiful Kathi, an air stewardess for TWA. They married in Chicago and established a wonderful happy family life. Seamus built up a highly successful accountancy business.

Immensely proud of his Derry roots and Irish identity and besides remaining in close contact with extended family this side of the Atlantic, Seamus forged strong links with the Irish community in Chicago, particularly through his association with the Irish American Heritage Centre. In 2012 Seamus brought these two worlds together by persuading the prestigious IBAM Festival(Irish Books, Art and Music) to adopt a “Derry/Londonerry- City of Culture” theme and organised a week-long visit to Chicago by many local people and organisations who played a leading role in the 2013 celebrations.

These included the Mayor of Derry, Councillor Kevin Campbell, Eamonn Deane of Holywell Trust, Maureen Hetherington of The Junction, Richard Moore of Children in Crossfire, Rev. David Latimer of First Derry Presbyterian Church, Stephen Martin of the PSNI, Seamus Heaney of the Creggan Community Initiative, Joe Mahon of Westway Films, Shona McCarthy and Grainne Devine of the Culture Company.

In a remarkable series of panel discussions and presentations representing a diverse range of views and opinions, the Derry contingent were able to engage with an American audience, often very movingly, in a way that brought the peace-building experience of Derry/Londonderry people into clear and helpful focus. Whatever gravity that might suggest was alleviated by the hugely entertaining input provided in the evening by such performers as Phil Coulter, Damien Mc Ginty, Stephen Rea and Bernard Heaney.

That Derry/Londonderry themed festival in Chicago was inspired and painstakingly co-ordinated by Seamus Coyle,whose enthusiasm, organisational flair and unfailing good will was really the driving force behind the whole project. The Derry diaspora, family friends and visitors were always welcomed with his trademark ever welcoming smile and endless generosity of spirit. The result of his efforts was a wonderful opportunity to publicise and promote the City of Culture agenda to a massive transatlantic audience that would otherwise have known little about the events of 2013.

Seamus the man however was a devoted, quiet and funloving family man first and foremost. Following the untimely death of his own father at fifty eight years of age, it was without hesitation that he assumed the mantle of comforter and advisor to his sisters and brother back home. He was a “rock” and mentor to them, in every respect and this continued until his recent death.

The shock and suddenness of his passing has left a huge void to all who knew and loved Seamus. The entirely unexpected death of this vital and energetic man who had so much more to contribute, not only to his own family, but also to the community at large on both sides of the Atlantic, will be felt as a profound loss by anyone who knew Seamus.

He will be remembered as a dedicated family man of quiet industry. Seamus’s family was his main focus in life. He is survived by his loving wife Kathi, his devoted family Rory, Cara and Megan along with his five grandchildren, who all played such an important role in his life. In Derry he is survived by his sisters Mary Kay, Sinead, Sheila, Patricia and by his brother Donal.

Seamus will also be remembered by a wider circle of friends and admirers as a motivator of enormous charm and good humour, whose generosity of spirit and sheer application,ensured that wherever he went in life, good things happened.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.