Joseph “Joey” Ballantine Glover

by Joseph Ryan Glover

“… maybe someday they will see, they slay the land they strive to free”
Alan Tees

Joseph “Joey” Ballantine Glover (30 JUN 1916 – 23 NOV 1976) was my paternal grandfather. I never met him because he was killed by two teenaged gunmen on November 23rd, 1976 at his place of work, the Ballintine Timber Company, in Londonderry. He was likely killed by the Provisional IRA in retaliation for the shooting of a Catholic business owner the day before by the Ulster Freedom Fighters. He was shot nine times in the neck and chest. He was 60.

I started this post with Joey’s assassination to get it out of the way. His death was a brutal tragedy but it does not eclipse his legacy. Joey was a musician, a sportsman, a businessman and a leader in the community. He gave of himself for the public good, serving as the President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and the Treasurer of the City of Londonderry. He was an accomplished organist, composer and arranger and his skills as an accompanist were sought throughout the North-West of Ireland. He was an early member of City of Derry Drama Club and the week of his death he was to be in a production of Antigone. He was a cultured man with many and varied interests.

Above all (quite literally) he was a mountaineer. He loved to climb the mountains of Ireland, Scotland, England and beyond and was a founding member of the North-West Mountaineering Club (NWMC). Formed in 1955 Joey was the spiritual leader of the club, pushing his fellow members with his passion for the sport, informed by his “intimate knowledge of the terrain of Donegal” and his irrepressible zeal. In his wonderful book, From High Places: A Journey Through Ireland’s Great Mountains, Adrian Hendroff writes that Joey was “an eccentric man of charisma and tenacity” with a “profuse enthusiasm and unflagging vitality for the hills”. These statements certainly characterize the man captured in the photos found on the NWMC website, which depict Joey as a quintessential outdoorsman, at home in his element and content with the world. I have gratefully reproduced a few of them below that I sourced from their photo gallery titled Times Past. The family has been so pleased to find these images as there are so few extant photos of granddad.

Joey 1955



The “brick-red sweater” that Hendroff describes in his book can be seen in the following photo, where Joey stands front and centre for the group shot. This photo is also precious to me because the first woman in from the left, the one wearing the brown coat, is my late grandmother Alyson Glover and the young woman in front of her is my dear aunt Lorna.


Joey was a fastidious recorder of his achievements, as befits a man who chose accounting as a profession (as has my sister!). In his journals he dutifully recorded each of his ascents, the mountain, the approach and date. When he was featured in a Sportsman of the Week article in the Londonderry Sentinel he concluded that Errigal must be his favourite mountain as he had climbed it 82 times. That data-driven answer belies my grandfather’s love for that mountain and it is on its peak that his cairn and grave marker were placed and his ashes were spread.


I have lifted this photo of Errigal (it is the centre peak) from Simon Stewart’s website about the Glover Highlander Walk. The Glover is a memorial trek first organized by the North-West Mountaineering Club that consists of a 20km walk from Muckish Mountain to Errigal over 8 peaks and with 2000 meters of combined ascent. In recent times the NWMC has been forced to curtail the Walk over concerns for erosion and other environmental impacts of having 300+ people tromp the course. While it seems that the walk hasn’t been officially run in a few years I did find a bulletin for the 2014 edition of the Walk so it still remains a popular challenge for ambitious hikers. I hope to one day visit Errigal and take the Walk but looking at the official walk profile (also sourced from Simon’s site) I’ll need to do some serious training before I attempt it.


I have written this blog post because I never knew the man whose name I carry and as I have gotten older, and had sons of my own, I’ve become more reflective. My father seldom spoke of Joey while he was alive and I was too young to understand why I should have pressed the issue. Thankfully, I have in my attic an old suitcase that is full of documents outlining my grandfather’s life. I intend to scan or transcribe some of them to share with the family (and whoever else may be interested) and when I do I will link them below for posterity.

Joseph “Joey” Ballantine Glover Fonds

ACROSS THE NEPHIN BEG RANGE – A transcribed first-hand account of a gruelling night-time walk of 27 miles written by Joey.

THE CHRONICLES OF BARNESMORE GAP or “THE DAY DAVID GOT LOST” – A transcribed short story about the time Joey’s son David (my father) got lost on a hike.

ON SEEING A BOYHOOD HERO ON T.V. – A transcribed poem in which Joey laments the corrosive effects of time.