George Robinson Obituary by Brian Cassells

Museum Service Chairman's tribute to a great friend.

A glowing tribute to the qualities of the late Mr George Robinson, has been paid by Mr Brian Cassells, chairman of the Craigavon Museum Service.

Mr Cassells said, "George was the person who, in my lifetime, contributed most to the study and preservation of local history in the North Armagh area. He was a mine of information and had a tremendous practical ability. He abounded with sheer common sense, and was one of the most respected historians throughout Ireland.

"One of my most memorable days spent with George was on a visit to the Boyne Valley to plan an outing for our historical society. Like everything else George did, the day had to be meticulously planned. Every last detail had to be timed and tested. Perhaps the highlight of the day was a visit to the on-going excavation at Newgrange. I had read much of this project directed by a man who was the genius of Irish archaeology, Professor Michael O'Kelly.


"I remember approaching the monument - piles of earth, scaffolding, a hive of activity. George was in his element; this was his scene. As we approached the monument, a man came running forward very excitedly. "George," he called, you must see what we have uncovered."

"The man was none other than the renowned Professor O'Kelly, who wanted George's opinion and advice. Such was the awe and respect in which he was held. George was held in the highest esteem by all the prominent archaeologists and historians of his time," Brian continued. "He was essentially a practical man, a thoughtful, gentle giant, kind and considerate and humble in every sense of the word.

"Those who worked with him in the workshops in Moira will testify to his magnanimity. Many is the young person whom he guided on the road of life. George always looked for the good in people, and managed to bring that out in all circumstances. He worked closely with some of the local secondary schools giving young apprentices training in long forgotten skills.

"He had an inexhaustible knowledge of days gone by, of early farming methods and of primitive machinery. He was responsible for recognising and saving one of the oldest dug-out canoes ever found in Ireland, and he ensured the preservation of the earliest wooden plough. The list is endless.

He recalled that George Robinson was a founder-member of the local historical society and delighted in its continued success. His contribution to the society's magazine, 'Review', was a testimony to his wealth of knowledge. The existence of the Craigavon museum project bears testimony to his enthusiasm, for it was George, with others, who fought for it formation. He was the first curator and he was the founder. And, thankfully, those with influence in society recognised and utilised his vast array of skills. His award of the MBE bore testimony to his achievements, But behind all George's zeal for local history, he was essentially a family man, and at the funeral service in Seagoe Parish Church, the rector, Dean Chllingworth, spoke of how his hobby had become his work, and of the exemplary way he lived.


"Like many others, I am poorer for George's passing," Brian said. "He was my friend, one whom I could totally trust, one whom I admired, one whom I held in the highest esteem.

"I owe George so much. The love of my locality was inculcated and nurtured in me - like so many others - by him. Society is the poorer for the passing of George Robinson, MBE."

Obituary from the Portadown Times

Master Stonemason, Ex-RAF Mechanic and outstanding historian

Mr George Robinson, MBE, who has died in hospital following an illness which he bore with great fortitude, was a man of many talents. A leading historian, he was an authority on historic buildings and took an active role in establishing the museums at Ardress House, Pinebank and Tannaghmore.

Aged 77, Mr Robinson had a wide and varied career which included working on the family farm in his early days, service with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and a very successful career with the Historic Monuments Branch of the DoE.

Born at Cushenny, off the Richmount Road, the son of Richard and Anna Robinson, he left the family farm shortly after the outbreak of World War Two to volunteer for service in the Royal Air Force. Most of his service, as an aircraft mechanic, was in the Far East.


George Robinson at Narrow Water CastleUpon leaving the RAF in 1945, Mr Robinson returned home and entered the employment of local building firm George Hyde. In 1962 he joined the Ancient Monuments Branch. It was here that he spent the most rewarding years of his working life establishing a unique Ancient Monuments Works Depot at Moira. Here he initiated the revival of many dying crafts such as that of the stonemason, the blacksmith, the wood turner and the thatcher.

Until his retirement in 1985, he oversaw the conservation and restoration of many of Northern Ireland's outstanding monuments and buildings, including Ballycopeland Windmill, and the castles at Carrickfergus, Hillsborough, Narrow Water and Dunluce.

On leaving Historic Monuments Branch, he joined Craigavon Borough Council as their Heritage Projects Officer and was consulted on many schemes, including the restoration of Moneypenny's Lock and the Newry Canal.

He lent his expertise to the preservation of the ruins of the old church in Seagoe Churchyard and also gave valuable service in the restoration of the War Memorial gates at the entrance to Seagoe Parish Church, where he and his family worshipped.


His many friends and family were delighted when Mr Robinson was awarded the MBE in 1985 for his outstanding contribution to local history and monuments. He was a founding member and chairman of the Craigavon Historical Society and took a very keen interest in the newly established Craigavon Museums at Pinebank and Tannaghmore Gardens. And he was a key figure in the rapid development and expansion of the museum service.

Mr Robinson is survived by his wife Renee, sons Martin, Colin and Timothy, and daughter Julie. Also by 12 grandchildren and by his brothers Richard, Robert who lives in New Zealand, Victor in Australia and by his sisters Gladys and Florence.

At his funeral, Dean David Chillingworth referred to Mr Robinson's fine qualities, and paid tribute to him for the help and advice he had given to many people.

The interment took place in Seagoe Churchyard.

Brian Cassells

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