Lilian Girvan, former mayoress

Lilian Girvan, mayoress of Larne from 1960-63 and first mayoress of the modern council from 1973-74, died on December 6 at the age of 92.

The eldest of four children, Lilian was born in Portadown on May 29, 1919 to Robert and Martha Taylor, who lived in Hampton Terrace and then Alexandra Gardens.

Her father was the manager of Lipton’s Dairy in the town. Lilian went to Jervis Street School and Portadown Technical College and, aged 16, arrived in Larne and lodged with a local family having found work as a hairdresser.

During the Second World War, Lilian served as a Red Cross nurse, attending hospital before and after work. At that time she was also a keen badminton and hockey player.

Lilian first met Aubrey Girvan (son of John Girvan, building contractor and former mayor of Larne) while out walking with her friends along the promenade – a popular pastime in those days. Their romance blossomed and they were married in 1st Portadown Presbyterian Church on May 27, 1944 by Rev John Heney. Lilian and Aubrey had three daughters – Pauline, Patricia and Carol – and while Lilian stayed at home to look after them, Aubrey ran the family business, Hugh Girvan & Sons.

Lilian was involved in many organisations in Larne, among them the Soroptomists and the Inner Wheel and took up the post of secretary to the local Irish Dancing Festival for a couple of years while her daughters competed.

In the early Sixties, Aubrey was appointed mayor of Larne and Lilian supported him as mayoress by attending many events and functions, including the launch of the first roll-on roll-off ferry, the Caledonian Princess; the opening of the swimming pool on Tower Road; and many charity events throughout his term.

She always had an interest in Larne Drama Circle productions and was an annual season ticket holder for Larne Drama Festival until recently.

Aubrey was elected mayor for a second time in 1973 when Lilian was again at his side. In fact, it is an indication of the esteem in which she was held that both the present mayor and chief executive attended her funeral.

Sadly, Aubrey died in 1984 but Lilian continued to be active and supportive in many areas of civic and family life. She had taken up playing bowls in later in life and was part of the ladies’ team for Larne Bowling and Lawn Tennis Club throughout each summer, serving as president in 1991.

In the winter months she occupied her time on the indoor bowling circuit, playing matches for Larne Civic Bowling Club and bringing home numerous trophies. She was also a vice-president of Larne Cricket Club, an honour given to her for her support to the club and to Aubrey when he played for them. Many a Saturday she and the girls could be found at Sandy Bay helping to prepare the teas for the teams.

On her marriage, Lilian became a member of the congregation of the Larne Methodist Church, where Aubrey’s family were all regular worshippers, and continued to attend regularly and supported the church as long as she was able to.

During the last 18 months in Broadways Private Nursing Home, Lilian still took part in the sing-songs, bingo and other activities while she was able and enjoyed them very much.

Lilian is survived by her brother Robert and daughters Pauline, Patricia and Carol and will be sadly missed by them and the wider family circle in Larne; Belfast; Conisbrough, S Yorks; and Columbus, Ohio.