Martin ‘only felt at home in his beloved Bogside’

The screen featuring the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and a countdown to the lived feed of the Funeral Service yesterday.

The screen featuring the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and a countdown to the lived feed of the Funeral Service yesterday.

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Martin McGuinness may have frequented corridors of power across the world but he only felt truly at home in his beloved Bogside, mourners at his funeral were told.

Speaking to the tens of thousands who had gathered inside and outside St. Columba’s Church, Long Tower yesterday afternoon, Father Michael Canny described Martin McGuinness as a “complex man” but also a “man of simple tastes who ascended to the political summit”.

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Fr Canny, who was joined by several other local priests as he officiated at the Requiem Mass, told those gathered: “He visited the White House, Downing Street and Windsor Castle, but only ever felt at home in his beloved Bogside, returning to his wife and family at every opportunity.

“He shook hands with presidents, prime ministers, Taoisigh and even royalty, but was most comfortable walking with Bernie along the backshore at Buncrana, or wandering at Inch Island or up at Grianan, or along a river bank fishing.

“He ate many formal dinners but was happiest when eating cabbage and bacon, or a piece of salmon caught by his friend Jamsie Quinn.”

He added: “By any standards, Martin McGuinness was a remarkable man and his life was a remarkable journey. The values he had; the principles he championed are still very much alive.”

Earlier, the Bishop of Derry, Dr. Donal McKeown described the former deputy First Minister as “a unique figure.”

Making reference to the dignitaries gathered, the bishop pointed out that while he was a public figure, for the McGuinness family this was a very personal occasion.

Bishop McKeown said: “First of all we welcome the family of Martin, his wife Bernie, his daughters Grainne, Fionnuala, sons Fiachra and Emmet, his grandchildren and the wider McGuinness family. For you this is not the funeral of a public figure; this is the funeral of a husband, a father and a grandfather and our first thoughts are inevitably with you and that is why these people are here.”

During the Mass Martin’s’ grandchildren and other relatives were among those who took part in the Prayers of the Faithful and the Presentation of the Offertory gifts.