Bishop Daly to celebrate Carson’s funeral Mass

The late Frank Carson pictured in Derry in the early 1990s with, from left, Dr. Edward Daly, Dr. James Mehaffey and the late James MacCafferty.
The late Frank Carson pictured in Derry in the early 1990s with, from left, Dr. Edward Daly, Dr. James Mehaffey and the late James MacCafferty.
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Bishop Edward Daly will celebrate Mass and preach the homily at Frank Carson’s funeral in Belfast tomorrow.

The retired Bishop of Derry - a close friend of the late comedian - has been invited by the Carson family to officiate at the ceremony which will take place at St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street.

IT'S A CRACKER... A young Frank Carson pictured with Derry's very own Maureen Hegarty in 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', one of Fr. Edward Daly's first pantomimes at St. Columb's Hall in the early 1960s.

IT'S A CRACKER... A young Frank Carson pictured with Derry's very own Maureen Hegarty in 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', one of Fr. Edward Daly's first pantomimes at St. Columb's Hall in the early 1960s.

The Belfast-born entertainer passed away last week after a long illness. He was aged 85.

Dr. Daly, who first met the Belfast-born comedian in the early 1960s, told the ‘Journal’ he had “lost a friend who always made me laugh.”

Famous for his sayings “it’s a cracker” and “it’s the way I tell ‘em”, Carson came to prominence in the 1960s after winning TV’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’.

However, before his rise to fame via television, he was already well known in Derry for his role in various shows at St. Columb’s Hall.

Frank Carson and Dr. Tom McGinley.

Frank Carson and Dr. Tom McGinley.

It was at this stage that a young Fr. Edward Daly first made his acquaintance.

“I first met Frank in 1962 when, among my many duties, I was looking after the provision of entertainment at St. Columb’s Hall,” recalled the retired Bishop.

“Along with the late James McCafferty and Don O’Doherty, I was tasked with organising regular Sunday night shows at the Hall. We decided that we’d try to attract some big names from England, Ireland and the United States.

“We also knew we would need a resident comedian and, on Don’s recommendation, we initially booked Frank for three concerts in 1962 - he was still there in 1969!”

Frank Carson’s son, Tony, said the family could think of “no better person” than Bishop Daly to officiate at tomorrow’s funeral Mass.

“Bishop Daly and my dad were great friends for so many years,” he told the ‘Journal’ this week. “It was natural for us to ask him to preside at the Mass. I’m sure it’s what my dad would have wanted.”

Tony Carson said Bishop Daly and his father remained in close contact right up until his death.

“Bishop Daly spoke to my dad down the phone just hours before he died. While my father coudn’t speak, Bishop Daly said a prayer with him. My father would have greatly appreciated this.”

Tony Carson said it was only right that his father should be buried in Belfast.

“We have to take him home,” he said. “That’s where he came from and that’s where he gets the roots of his humour - that sort of Belfast dry wit, no respect for anything or everybody but respect at the same time.

“So we’ve got to take him back there and celebrate the great life that he had.”