Derry City legend, Mark Farren, will be laid to rest this morning.
The 33-years-old passed away after a long illness during the early hours of Wednesday morning; he had been battling a brain tumour for the third time.
Mark’s remains will leave his home in Mill Glen, Moville at 10:20 a.m. for Requiem Mass at 11 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church, Ballybrack.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour for the first time on Christmas Eve in 2008, disaster struck in 2013; again in 2015 and in the summer of last year when he travelled to Mexico to undergo specialist treatment.
“We refuse to be downbeat about everything, because there is always someone worse off than yourself,” Mark said in an interview with the ‘Journal’ in February, 2014.
“I am very lucky to have such a brilliant family and Terri’s family have been amazing too. Terri is my rock and I don’t know where I would be without her. Hopefully, everything that has happened is now in the past and we can get on with what we like doing best, quiet nights in watching movies and walking along the shore from Moville to Greencastle,” he added.
The player’s death sent shock waves throughout Ireland and further afield.
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has written to Mark’s widow, Terri-Louise, to express his sympathy.
“It is appropriate that so many tributes have been made to Mark Farren,” said President Higgins.
“They have come from all of those who have known of his great footballing career as an iconic star for Derry City F.C. His colleagues have correctly pointed to his great strength of character and his generosity as a colleague and club member.
“Those of us who attended the League of Ireland and had the pleasure of seeing his many appearances will recall his great skills and sportsmanship.”
President Higgins added: “They will be joined by the public in general in admiring his courageous battle against incredible odds and they will want to send their sympathy and solidarity to his wife and partner, Terri-Louise Farren. I have written to Mrs. Farren to offer my condolences.”
SDLP leader and MLA for Foyle, Colum Eastwood, said naming the new stand in Brandywell Stadium after Mark would be a fitting tribute to his memory.
“Given Mark’s huge stature at the club, it is natural that Derry City fans are thinking of ways to pay tribute to his legacy. I note that the club has already retired the number 18 shirt he wore and I think Liam Coyle’s idea to name the new stand after Mark would be a further fitting tribute.
“Once built, it will be a small but important gesture to all that Mark meant to Derry City F.C. over recent years. For my part, I think it would be a great way to remember Mark. May he rest in peace,” said Mr. Eastwood.
Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, described Mark’s battle with illness as “courageous.”
“Mark fought a courageous battle with his illness, bravely supported by his wife Terri-Louise and their families,” said Mr. McGuinness.
“Mark will be remembered by Derry City supporters and the people of Derry for his exploits on the football pitch, but he was much more than a footballer. He was also a gentleman and loyal friend. His loss will be most acutely felt by his wife and the wider Farren and Holmes families.
“I extend my sincerest and heartfelt condolences and those of my party to them at this very sad time.”
Meanwhile, as a sign of respect, Derry City F.C. has withdrawn the No. 18 shirt, which was worn by Mark throughout his career and tonight’s scheduled friendly against Ballymena United has been postponed.
Elsewhere, a Derry City supporter has set-up an online petition to lobby Derry City and Strabane District Council to name the new stand at the Brandywell Stadium.
At the time of going to Press in excess of 1,500 people had signed the petition.