Several hundred people gathered inside St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Sunday afternoon for the funeral of Paddy ‘Bogside’ Doherty-one of the iconic figures of the civil rights movement and the ‘Free Derry’ era of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Mr Doherty passed away in the early hours of last Thursday morning, January 7.
Paddy ‘Bogside’ as he was affectionately known was in his 89th year and would have reached his 90th birthday in March this year.
Those in attendance at the funeral included John Hume and his wife Pat, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion and Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin, Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin and former SDLP MLA John Tierney.
Former Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rev Dr James Mehaffey was also St Eugene’s Cathedral as was Dean of St Columb’s Cathedral, Rev William Morton and his wife Rosemary. Both Bishop Mehaffey and Mrs Morton have strong links to the Inner City Trust which founded by Mr Doherty. Church of Ireland Canon Brian Smeaton also attended the Mass as did former chair of the Foyle Ulster Unionist Association, Mr Terry Wright.
Pop star, Johnny McDaid of Snow Patrol fame also carried Mr Doherty’s coffin on the way to St Eugene’s.
The funeral cortege left the family home at number 10 Westland Street at around 11.45am followed by his family and many dozens of mourners.
The cortege then moved down Westland Street and into Rossville Street before poignantly pausing for a brief period at Free Derry Corner. Graffiti which had been daubed on the Wall over the weekend read ‘RIP PADDY BOGSIDE-A MAN OF OUR TIME’.
Mr Doherty was also a founding member of the Credit union organisation in Derry and the funeral procession then passed adjacent to the organisation’s building in Abbey Street before making its way through the Little Diamond and into the grounds of St Eugene’s Cathedral.
The flag of the Irish Republic that had been placed over his coffin outside his house was removed before entering St Eugene’s for his funeral Mass which began at 12.30pm. The church was thronged inside with mourners with many dozens standing in the only spaces left available.
At the outset of the Mass Administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral, Fr Paul Farren told mourners that Paddy Doherty had come from a family of 11, had thirteen children of his own, there are 46 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Members of the extended family brought symbols of Paddy ‘Bogside’ Doherty’s life to the Cathedral altar to mark his memory. First amongst these was a photograph of his family which Fr Farren said “was the greatest passion of his life”.
A copy of his autobiography was also brought forward which of course included his role within the civil rights campaign and his foundation of the Inner City Trust and Derry Youth and Community Workshop; a Credit Union book symbolised his involvement in bringing that organisation to his native city and an El Salvadorian Cross marked his involvement in international aid movements. Lastly, a dove, the universal symbol of peace and love, was presented.
Indeed, the past few days have marked a very tragic time for the wider family of Paddy Doherty with the passing of Jim Kelly, the husband of Mr Doherty’s daughter Fiona. Mr Kelly was 51-years-old and had suffered a period of illness.
Mr Kelly passed away later on the same day as his father-in-law, Thursday, January 7. He was father to Erin, Conor and Padraig. Jim Kelly was the son of Brian and Lily Kelly and the brother of Adrian, Brian, Kieran, Eamonn, Aine and Orla.
His funeral cortege left his home at Westpoint Manor at Quigley’s Point this morning, Monday, January 11, 2016 and travelled to St Eugene’s Cathedral for funeral Mass at 11.30am. Whilst en route the cortege paused for a few moments at the H-Block memorial in Rossville Street in honour of his commitment to the republican movement.
Prayers were offered for Mr Kelly and his immediate family on Sunday as well as Paddy Doherty’s wife Eileen who is also currently unwell.
Several priests from the Derry Dioceses concelebrated Sunday’s Mass, but it was Fr Paul Farren who told mourners that Mr Doherty was a “resilient man as well as a remarkable leader with an indestructible spirit who had a vision for a better future. He had a commitment to the common good and the foundation for this was his faith in God which was grounded in his family.”
“Paddy Doherty,” continued Fr Farren, “was baptised in this Church almost 90 years ago and it was then that God declared ‘my favour rests with you’. This gave him the confidence to do all that he achieved. He was a remarkable man who made roads where there were no roads. There was no situation he was ever in where he didn’t see the possibility of making something better.”
Fr Farren also recalled that Paddy Doherty, whilst a builder by trade did more than construct buildings, he also helped build communities and gave young people self-esteem in a time when it was in short supply.
“Paddy came from a past generation of resilient people and big thinkers who were never bound by selfishness or even by economics. This was a resilience grounded in faith and family. Today, as a people of faith, we give thanks to God for Paddy.
“If we want to honour his memory the best thing we can do is get involved in volunteering. If we do that then future generations can look back at this time and say ‘we became a resilient people’.”
Following Mass the green flag emblazoned with a gold harp was placed back over Mr Doherty’s coffin and his remains were placed in the hearse. The cortege then proceeded from St Eugene’s Cathedral to the City Cemetery where Mr Doherty’s remains were interred.