Big thank you from

Tributes paid to well Known figure in entertainment

Barry 0'KaneTRIBUTES have been pouring in this week to one of the best known figures on the Northern Ireland entertainment scene, Barry O'Kane, who died on Monday morning.

The 47-year-old was found on his bathroom floor of his Crumlin home around 10.30am. It is believed he suffered a heart attack.

Mr. O'Kane, a father of three, lived at Weaver's Meadow with his wife Jenny and three children Aine, Bronagh, and Barry Billy.

Mr. O'Kane, whose brother Jake is a well known comic, founded the entertainment magazine Big Buzz and in 2000, along with his wife, launched the Big Buzz awards in Belfast, which attracted many celebrities, soap stars and musicians including Boyzone, Take That's Mark Owen, and soap stars from Coronation Street and EastEnders.

He had started his career working in advertising in the Newsletter where he met his wife. He founded Big Buzz magazine in 1995.

Mr. O'Kane, originally from the Antrim Road also owned Crumlin News and Co Antrim News, as well as the Good Wedding Guide, the Good Food Guide and the Hair and Beauty Guide. He recently launched Battered, a magazine for the fish and chip industry and had set up the Northern Ireland Chip Shop Awards.

He was also involved in charity work and organised fundraising events for Race Against Multiple Sclerosis, Shine a Light and Starlight.

Paying tribute to Mr. O'Kane, close friend and broadcaster Robin Elliott, said: "Barry was in the best form he's ever been recently. His death has come as such a great shock to all of us who knew him.

He was a great character and family man and was so important to entertainment here in Northern Ireland.

"He took risks and was a great person to work with."

Mr Elliott said he had worked with Mr O'Kane recently, helping him finish off some of the magazines.

"He had been reminiscing a lot recently and had been contacting people who had not seen him in years," said Robin. "I last spoke to him on Friday. He just rang me to ask how my radio show had gone. It was a really unexpected but a pleasant call from him.

"Barry was larger than life and did a lot for the entertainment industry. I remember the Big Buzz Awards and the celebrations that followed would go on for days afterwards but that was the sort of person he was.

"He was a very generous man and he is going to be be very sadly missed."

Ulster Star