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Wilfred McNeilly (1921-1983)

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Wilfred Glassford McNeilly was born in Georgetown, Strathclyde, Scotland, on 8 March 1921. He was an army cadet in school, and was commissioned into the army shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, serving with the Lothian and Borders Horse, then in India with the 2nd Royal Lancers, and finally as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Indian Navy. He met his wife, a Scottish nurse, in India. In 1947 he returned to live with his parents, who had moved to County Antrim.

He became a journalist, working on the Northern Whig and then the News Letter. He moved from Belfast to Ardglass, County Down, and published his first novel, Dark Amazon, in 1957. Numerous novels followed, including Sexton Blake detective stories, war, adventure and occult stories, under a variety of pseudonyms, over the next two decades. He had a weekly poetry slot on Ulster Television, proclaiming himself the "Bard of Ardglass". He also wrote a children's cartoon serial, The Adventures of Gabbety Goose, every Saturday in the News Letter for about 15 years.

Although quiet when sober, he was something of a hedonist and frequently found himself in court following an unrestrained night out. He was keen on sailing and walking his Irish wolfhound, Brian Boru, who he had incidentally acquired from the owner of a yacht he was negotiating to buy. After separating from his wife he moved to Jersey, but in the second quarter of 1983, while staying in Bexleyheath in Kent to negotiate a publishing contract, he died of a heart attack. His ashes were taken on a pub crawl, and then scattered in the Irish Sea halfway between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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