A heartbreaking absence - RIP Mike Moloney

(A tribute to our friend, the late and very great Mike Moloney, who passed away suddenly last weekend - his funeral service takes place this Wednesday. If you'd like to read some more tributes to Mike, or contribute one of your own, log on to www.mikemoloney.net)

It’s almost impossible to accept that Mike is gone – he was a man with such lively, sparky presence that the word ‘absent’ just refuses to sit in the same sentence.

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Andrea and I were late converts to the Cult of Mike, but of course once you join, you’re in for life. We met him through our dear friend Nuala, and were immediately hooked on his mixture of animated intelligence and twinkly, well-read charm. He was like Mark Twain meets Bugs Bunny.

The last time we met Mike was a couple of weeks ago in St. George’s Market in Belfast (where we would often run into each other). Andrea and I were queuing for coffee, and he came up silently behind us and put his knee in behind mine in an attempt to topple me.

As I staggered and remained upright, I turned around just in time to see him scampering – like a cartoon mouse – back to another queue, sniggering and waving bye bye.

Three days later I was running sound and lights for a presentation evening at Flowerfield Arts Centre, where I work. It was a presentation evening, aimed at celebrating the support from the local business community for the North West ‘200’ motorcycle races. Someone was showing a Powerpoint presentation – pictures of the high jinks that the motorcyclists would get up to during Race Week.

‘But there are some things even these daredevils won’t tackle’, he said – and brought up a slide of one of the riders standing beside Mike as he performed one of his pyrotechnics, flames leaping from his mouth. I remember chuckling with delight and recognition.

It seems fitting to me that the last thought I had of Mike was an image of him doing something superhuman. Breathing fire and defying the ordinary.

(on behalf of Andrea and I)