Seamus Mullan laid to rest: ‘Derry Gael left big footprints all over the city’

Seamus Mullan’s ‘big footprints are all over Derry’ mourners were told at his Requiem Mass yesterday.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 12:07 pm
The late Seamus Mullan
The late Seamus Mullan

Fr. Patrick O’Neill, in his homily at St. Columb’s, Waterside, described the Drum-native, who passed away on Tuesday, as a ‘quiet and determined gentleman with a big voice’ who was a stalwart of the GAA in his adopted city.

Chief among mourners were his wife Anna, his children Catriona, Fiona, Gráinne, Maria and Sean, his grandchildren and his wider family circle and friends.

Fr. O’Neill, a first cousin of Anna, travelled from Miami to celebrate the life of his ‘brother’ and spoke of Seamus’ huge influence on Gaelic games, particularly of his role in the modernisation of Celtic Park.

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He told mourners that he had even paid a visit to the Bogside stadium Seamus had helped sculpt prior to the service yesterday morning.

“Seamus has big footprints and handprints all over the city of Derry and beyond in many other places,” said Fr. O’Neill. He had been, the congregation heard, a pioneer in the development of the GAA in Derry during the most difficult times and had always refused to take no for an answer.

“He climbed over obstacles, climbed over barriers, climbed over people telling him that it couldn’t be done - you need more permits, you need more permissions, whatever...He was very determined, a quiet gentleman who had that big voice and was very determined to have Celtic Park completed and against all odds he did. It shows the power of the human spirit, of determination.”

The former Adria manager’s sense of civic duty extended beyond the GAA, as Fr. O’Neill observed.

“He served on dozens of city commissions and committees and boards to serve the people of Derry. This was his family, his community. He had a big voice. In the late 60s and early 70s when there was so much dislike and hatred and uncertainty he spoke up against that and asked for peace and patience. He taught us the old lessons in a new way because of his journey of life.”

Poignantly, Fr. O’Neill referred to Seamus’ dedication to his family.

“Everything was family, not just talking about family, but sacrificing for family, journeying with family, in good times and bad,” he said.

Addressing his family directly Fr. O’Neill said: “We cherish him. Don’t be anxious. You have a saint in heaven to pray to. St. Seamus. He’ll take care of you on the journey.”

After his funeral service Seamus’ coffin was conveyed to St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Dungiven where he was laid to rest.

Many tributes, meanwhile, have been paid to the late Derry Gael following the sad news of his passing this week.

The Derry County Board described him as ‘one of Derry GAA’s greatest ever unsung heroes’ and said he was someone who lived his life ‘in the service of others’.

“Derry GAA is saddened to learn of the passing of Seamus Mullan (Doire Colmcille and St Canice’s, Dungiven),” the board said. “Seamus Mullan was one of Derry GAA’s greatest ever unsung heroes. Diligent, single-minded, determined and talented, Seamus was a founding member of Club Derry and a proud and key driver of the modernisation of Celtic Park which saw it rise from the ruins of the Troubles to become a modern, provincial stadium. Seamus Mullan lived locally but thought on a national level delivering events like GAA Congress and Féile Peile in his home county. Above all he believed passionately in GAA volunteers and their ability to make society a better place for people. His was a life lived in the service of others. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.”

The two clubs with which he was most closely associated also paid tribute.

Doire Colmcille stated: “Doire Colmcille Committee and Members extend their sincere condolences and sympathy to former player Sean Mullan on the passing of his father, Seamus Mullan.

“Our thoughts and prayers are also with Seamus’ wife Anna and children Catriona, Fiona, Gráinne and Maria.

“Seamus was a long time benefactor and supporter of Doire Colmcille and a tireless volunteer for GAA throughout the county. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

St. Canice’s said: “The Committee, Players and Members of St. Canice’s GAC deeply regret the passing of former player Seamus Mullan, brother of former player Charlie Mullan and offer our sincere sympathy to the wider family circle. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”