Arthur Harland was a very able man. It was the winning of an open scholarship that took him to Campbell College in Belfast in 1916. When he retired from Spillers Ltd ,after 41 years of service, he had reached a very senior position as an advisor to the Board. He acquired great expertise on the workings of the Stock Market. His sporting talent was well above average; he played off a 4 or 5 handicap at golf, and was a good yachtsman and snooker player. He loved driving around in a good car, or better still on his Vincent 1000 motorcycle.
His decision to leave London, on his retirement in 1965, and return to truly rural South Armagh surprised many people. This was a genuinely secretive, sacrificial act. Indeed, he hung on to his third floor flat in Blackheath for many years, until travelling to it became too difficult for him. He confessed later that it had been a terribly difficult decision, and that it was taken solely out of a sense of loyalty to, and love for, his sister, who was now totally alone, after years of devoted service to their parents, and to Hillside. This turned out to be a heavy burden, as Alzheimer’s Disease cast its burden on Hillside for the third time. His service to Elinor, as she slowly deteriorated, was quite outstanding.
From 1965 he developed gardening skills that carried on his parents’ tradition with a magnificent annual harvest of vegetables and tomatoes. He became a highly proficient fly fisherman too; one prize 11-pound trout caught on Lough Mask was the envy of many anglers of far longer experience than his.
His own mental clarity remained perfect right up until the end. A bad electric shock from a faulty electric kettle, some three months before his death, damaged his heart. He fought a loosing battle at home with loving help from ‘the gardener’, Robin Gamble, who was forced into silence by Arthur’s directive, “Don’t tell the nephew!”
He died of congestive heart failure in Daisy Hill Hospital Newry just a few days after admission, seemingly content that he had reached his own personal goal – that of passing his 93rd milestone, just like his father and sister. His mother and his stepbrother Jack had only reached 91. He is buried with his mother, brother and sister in Bessbrook Methodist Cemetery. He had managed to get the value of his estate down to £553,002. (Will Calendar 1994).
Arthur Thornton Harland
b. 28 September 1900 at Hillside Bessbrook
d. 26 February 1994 at Daisy Hill Hospital Newry Co. Down. Buried in family plot in Bessbrook