Obituary - Philip Caddell


One of Portadown's most colourful and best-loved characters, Philip Caddell, has died in hospital after a long illness. Philip (55) led a rather unique life. He was a pub and night club entertainer in sunny Tenerife in the Canary Islands for 25 years. And before that, he was a disc jockey in Majorca and Sweden. His home in Portadown was at 95 Tandragee Road. The son of May Caddell and the late Tommy Caddell, he is survived by his mother, sisters Patricia McCleery and Stephanie Curry and brothers-in-law Bertie and Dessie.

Every year - May and October when the holiday season slackened in Tenerife - he travelled home to Portadown to see his mother and family. Educated at Thomas Street Primary School and Portadown College, it was obvious from the start that Philip was something of a non-conformist. He loved all sorts of music, especially the folk genre, and entertained with his singing, his guitar playing and his expertise on the banjo.

He could also play the piano, but not always the way his teacher, the legendary Ivy Jones of Church Street, would have wanted. He could play by ear, rather than by sheet music, but Mrs Jones, being something of a character herself, always encouraged self-expression. As well as having a keen ear for music, Philip also had a fine sense of humour, and this was especially appreciated at school and in the various sports which he played, for pure enjoyment. He played football, rugby, cricket and table tennis, and enjoyed a flutter on various sports on a Saturday.

After Portadown College, he went to the University of Ulster in Coleraine, although the family - who dearly loved him - still find it difficult to recall exactly what his official subjects were! His main love was the folk and entertainment scene at the university, and he abandoned formal studies completely after his first year year to follow his love of music - initially as a DJ and general entertainer.

Along with friends like Michael Fullerton, Roy McIntosh and Norman ‘Mooch’ Kerr, he performed at weekends in pubs and night clubs in places like Kilkeel, County Down, and soon after that he decided to try his luck further afield. His first stop was Arenal, Majorca, where he was known as DJ ‘Phil Dell’ and he stayed there for a number of years before heading north to Sweden.

While in Majorca and Sweden, his ear for languages emerged. He became fluent in Spanish and Swedish, and could also converse in Dutch, French and German, which was especially appreciated by the tourists.

Then - feeling his was becoming a bit long in the tooth to continue as a DJ - he decided to stick to the folk music scene, mainly with guitar accompaniment. At that, he headed south for Tenerife and its guaranteed year-round sunshine. He loved nothing better than spotting an Irish tourist among his audience, and he would get them on stage to perform their party piece and join in the craic.

He played solo, or in a duo and at times a trio, and one of his musical partners included a guitarist who played with the Wurzels - which was a rather different branch of folk music than Philip’s. He loved Irish folk and was known as ‘The Irish Rover’ in Tenerife. He also organised famous beach parties in the Canaries and these were loved by his fans and admirers.

Sadly, Philip contracted cancer in the early summer of 2006 and returned home to Portadown, although surgery at that time seemed to work. But the cancer returned and he died in hospital after a brave fight against a condition he knew to be terminal.

The funeral service was at Thomas Street Methodist Church, where the minister the Rev Colin Meneely conducted the service, assisted by pastoral assistant Myrtle Wright. Burial was at Seagoe Cemetery.