Airborne Engineers Association

Louis Gallagher



Eulogies to Louis

Louis Gallagher

Mary Alice’s (Louis’ sister) Eulogy for Louis

The youngest son of Francis and Helen Gallagher, Louis Edward was born in Whifflet, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 17th December 1941 but spent most of his pre-army days in Bellshill. He attended Holy Family Primary School in Mossend, followed by his secondary education at Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell.

At the age of twelve he joined the local Army Cadets where he learned to ‘spit and shine’ his cadet uniform of which he was very proud. He desperately wanted to become a ‘boy soldier’ at the age of fifteen but our Mammy and Daddy weren’t too keen on this idea, advising him to wait until he was eighteen.

So after leaving high school, Louis went to Coatbridge Technical College to undertake a trade course in electrical engineering, at the end of which he began his initial working life as an apprentice ‘sparky’.

When he was old enough, he joined the Territorial Army in Hamilton. However, the call to full-time military life was still very strong in him and in 1960 Louis started his training as a sapper in the Royal Engineers. He now had a ‘second family’ who became as precious to him as his own family. And the rest is history!

During his twenty-two years of service, when he was on leave, he never failed to come home to visit his parents and family.

When he retired from the army after the Falklands War in 1982, have a guess where he got his first job in civilian life - back in the Falklands!

On his return to the UK he set up home in Taunton where he was employed for a number of years at the Somerset College of Arts and Technology.

In the early 1990’s Edith, whom he met as a young soldier, came back into his life and they were married in this very church in February 1992. At last the family thought, ‘‘Here is someone who might eventually tame him!’’ Sadly their happiness together was very short-lived; Edith passed away in July the following year. No words can describe how devastated he was.

Eventually the time came when he decided to pack up his tools and become a ‘gentleman of leisure’ in pursuit of a life full of further travel and excitement!

As most of you are aware, Louis was a world traveller. Whenever he heard the name of a certain overseas country or city or town, his cry was, ‘‘Been there, seen it, done it and got the T-shirt!’’ The only continent he never visited was Antarctica - but he did manage to get very close to it when he went to the Falklands!

Just over a year ago he visited me and my husband, Mark in the great land ‘Down Under’ for the fifth time; the first visit being in 1979 after he took part in Operation Raleigh in Papua New Guinea. Louis told me at the time that this operation was perhaps the highlight of his military career (even though on his return to the UK he discovered that he had malaria!). However, just a year later in 1980 he received the greatest accolade of his life – the British Empire Medal which he wore with great pride and honour as a member of 9 Para Squadron RE.   

Louis, intrepid traveller - camera always at the ready! (He could have opened his own camera shop with all the money he spent on developing films!!)

Louis’ journey through life was never dull - he made us laugh, he made us cry! And no doubt, when we think or talk about him, we will continue to laugh or cry at the precious memories he has left us.

Rest in peace, our loving brother, brother-in-law, uncle, great-uncle, cousin, godfather, best man, special friend and not forgetting drinking buddy.

There is nobody like OUR LOUIS!

Eulogy for Louis Edward Gallagher BEM, by his nephew Steven Quigley

Louis was so many things to so many people.  A beloved brother, a revered comrade, an esteemed colleague, a treasured friend...  And to me, my sister, my cousins, and to countless others, he was Uncle Lou.

He was an ever-present in our lives.  He would go to the ends of the earth to make it to your Christening, he'd move mountains to celebrate your Birthday, and you could guarantee he'd be there, camera-in-hand the day you got Married.  Lou always figured.  When I moved abroad with work, his was one of the last faces I saw at the airport.  And when I eventually returned, his was one of the first.  Along with my father, his permission was sought by my now brother-in-law for the hand-in-marriage of my sister Claire.  He even had his own bedroom in my parents' house and so too, in many others.  He was such an integral part of our existence.

And yet how he made the time for us all is beyond me.  He lived the fullest of lives, serving all around the World, running Marathons and even finding time to squeeze in the very occasional trip to the Pub.  Every time I spoke to Lou he was on the road, attending all manner of social events in his retirement.  Though I must admit I sometimes questioned the legitimacy of his invitations and started to believe that perhaps it was he who had inspired the film 'Wedding Crashers'.  His experiences were rivalled by none.  They say that everyone dies but not everyone truly lives.  I know which category he fell into.
Louis was a very humble man.  But he had every reason to be tremendously proud.  At the very least he made me unashamedly proud.  I remember learning to ski as a young child on a dry ski slope in Aldershot that he had helped to build.  I told all my friends.  Last year I accompanied him to the Army Navy game at Twickenham and aside from witnessing his utter celebrity, I was at one stage asked what it felt like to be related to a Legend.  And indeed, standing here right now and being associated with this great man is not only a real privilege but also something I shall remember with great pride for years to come.  And yet he himself shied from praise and never boasted about or revelled in the just desserts that came his way.  He never did tell us what it was that he had done to earn him one of his greatest honours - his BEM.

Louis was also one of life's true Gentlemen.  He was, for instance, a shining example of how to treat women.  He was well-mannered, he was courteous and he was caring.  He honored my Grandmother, tending to her on a near full-time basis in her final years.  He was the most loving husband in his cherished but sadly short marriage to his sweetheart Edith.  And he maintained a constant watchful eye over his younger sisters - Mary-Alice and my mother Eileen, from their childhood right the way through to his last days.  He was incredibly thoughtful and generous to just about everyone.  It might have been some loose change in your hand as a kid, a Beetles songbook for Christmas, or even a brand new Sony Walkman back in the 80s.  He always put your happiness first and expected nothing in return.  He really did give so much but take so little.
Now it's fair to say that Louis wasn't particularly fond of silence.  Over the years he told me many things, enough to fill an Encyclopedia.  There were times when it was hard to keep up with what was being said, but the simple and important messages stuck.  My knowledge of the 7 P's as a conventional Marketing Acronym was turned on its head when he instead taught me that Proper Planning and Preparation would Prevent Piss Poor Performance.  He reminded me when everything was "Under Control", told me to "Chill" and always emphasised the importance of having A Sense of Humour.

Lou always made us laugh.  And he gave us a great sense of warmth and security.  He made us happy.  There are so many memories of Louis which I'm sure we can draw upon in the future whenever we might want a smile.  Like the spectacle of him singing and dancing away to REM on Karaoke over Christmas.  Or the vision of him wandering around a cross-channel ferry in the middle of the night armed only with a pair of boxer shorts.  Or the thought of his fake-tan-gone-wrong after his recent trip to Portugal - I never witnessed it, but just hearing about it had me falling off my chair in laughter. And all the while he too had a smile on his face.

Louis' death has left a huge hole in our lives.  He is irreplaceable.  There will be an empty seat at my Wedding one day.

However, I am now certain that it is better to have loved and to have lost than to have never loved at all.  We love you.  And it hurts to lose you.  But our lives have been richer for your involvement and we'll never forget you.

So Uncle Lou now it's your turn.  Take a bow.  And then chill.  See you again some day, just not yet.



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