Huge crowds turned out on Friday morning to say farewell to one of Derry’s finest - Larry Doherty.
Larry, a Derry Journal photographer for 50 years was the man “who knew everyone.”
This morning at St Patrick’s Church Pennyburn the church was packed with hundreds of faces that Larry’s camera had snapped across the years.
And there were moving scenes as the cortege brought Larry’s remains past the Derry Journal office, the place he worked for half a century, for the last time.
Speaking at the funeral Mass Bishop Edward Daly described Larry as a “brilliant photographer and a man who always had a story.”
“Larry Doherty was a man who was often in the right place at the right time capturing the moment, telling the story, the story of our city over the past 50 years,” he said.
“He was a brilliant photographer. As all of us know, he was a press photographer for the Derry Journal for many decades.
“When I first met Larry in the 1960s, he also did some wedding photography – there were very few dull weddings when Larry was around. He covered every type of local sporting event, whether it was D & D matches or Derry City matches in the Brandywell or Derry County matches in Celtic Park – Larry, accompanied by his camera, was a fixture on the touchlines. He photographed generations of young competitors at the Feis - hundreds of groups of children after Confirmation - Christmas parties for the elderly. Larry covered everything and made all his subjects feel special and important.
“But, above all, he was one of the great photographic chroniclers of the thirty years of conflict here in Derry. He covered every major event without fear or favour. I met him a few times in dramatic circumstances when we were both carrying out our respective work and when both of us were more than a little frightened, on one or two occasions scared out of our wits. His photographs were not only featured in the Journal but also in the national and international media. His photograph of a British Army snatch squad in action in Rossville Street was such a photograph. He was a reference point for every visiting professional photographer coming to Derry in those times - he showed them around, showed them the ropes, among them some of the greatest and celebrated international photojournalists of our time, people like the great English war photographer, Don McCullin and Gilles Peress of the Magnum Agency. Larry’s massive collection of photographs will be a huge resource and an invaluable photographic legacy for generations to come for historians and posterity.
“Larry lived and worked largely before the era of the Internet. He lived at a time when getting a photograph to London, Belfast or Dublin or New York for tomorrow’s newspaper required a lot of work, ingenuity and imagination, especially in a situation of mayhem and danger. There were no laptops or E Mails at that time. Despite many challenges and perils, Larry usually got his photographs to the desired destination in time. He loved his profession and enjoyed it and was excited by it.
“Everyone knew him. Everyone liked him. It was a time of excellent local photojournalism – I think today of the late Willie Carson and Trevor McBride, Larry’s colleagues and contemporaries and also, at times, competitors.
“On a personal level, Larry was always bright, humorous and positive whatever the situation, always had a story, always had a smile. He was always upbeat – he was seldom down. He was a good friend. He loved the CBS Past Pupils Choir in which he was an active and enthusiastic member up until he became unwell some years ago. He was a founder member of that choir.
“Larry was immensely dedicated to his family. He deeply loved his wife, Grace, who died too young, 26 years ago. Grace was a delightful lady. Grace by name and grace by nature. She was also graced with patience, because Larry’s work caused him to be out of the house at all hours of day and night. Given the times that were in it, I am sure that there were many uneaten and interrupted meals and dinners. Larry was blessed to share his life with her. Larry missed her greatly. A little of Larry died when she died.”
The Colmcille Ladies Choir sang a powerful rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic as Larry’s remains were brought from the church.