Dr Edward Daly, retired Bishop of Derry yesterday led the tributes to well known and loved comedian Frank Carson at his Funeral Mass in Belfast.
Hundreds gathered in Belfast to say goodbye to the comedian who has secured a place in the hearts of the generations of local people he entertained through the decades of his career.
Mourners included Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Tv presenter Eamon Holmes and comedian Jimmy Cricket.
Speaking as he officiated at the Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street, Belfast, Bishop Daly said: “Frank once looked at me sadly after I tried to tell him a joke and he told me that I would never be a comedian. So I am not going to try to be funny or witty this morning.
“I leave that to the professionals, to the comedians.
“Since his passing ten days ago, his professional colleagues have again and again powerfully and eloquently expressed their memories and love of Frank.
“I speak of Frank this morning merely as a dear and close friend, as a fellow Christian and Catholic, and someone who regularly brightened up my life and the life of this community during the fifty years that I have known him.
“We are here today to celebrate the life of a man who used his talents, his God-given gifts, in a wonderful and generous way. Frank made millions of people smile and laugh. He brightened up their lives. He was a Prime Minister of Fun. That was his mission in life. In his live performances, he could light up an audience and make them laugh and laugh. That is surely a great service to humanity. “I have known Frank for 50 years, since 1962. I have always valued that friendship. He was a good friend to have. Each one of us has his or her own story to tell about Frank. He touched the lives of so many people. On the day after he died, radio stations here in the North were full of Frank’s yarns and gags and stories. People swapped Frank stories. Everyone laughed and smiled. That was the measure of the man.
“Frank was married to Ruth for 62 years. How wonderful is that! That in itself is a powerful and eloquent testimony to the kind of man he was and to the kind of woman Ruth is. He loved Ruth. And Ruth loved him. They were married here in this beautiful church where his Funeral Mass is taking place.
“I often think that it must be difficult being a comedian’s wife, and even more difficult being a comedian’s mother-in-law! Thick skins, very thick skins are required. Frank loved and was so proud of his family, Majella, Tony and Aidan and all his grandchildren and his recent great great grandchild. Ruth and the family will greatly miss him. We express our deep and sincere sympathy to you, Ruth and to Majella, Tony and Aidan and to his brothers, Paddy and Seamus. And we thank you also for sharing Frank with us.
“His long life on earth has now come to an end.It has been a great journey from Little Italy to being a household name associated with catchphrases that everyone knows.”