Noel McBride:‘Synonymous with city, with laughter’

Members of Noel McBRide's family arrive at St Columb's Chapel yesterday. (0907SL03)
Members of Noel McBRide's family arrive at St Columb's Chapel yesterday. (0907SL03)

The late Noel McBride was a man synonymous with Derry and laughter, the congregation at his Requiem Mass were told yesterday.

The Derry comedian died last week after a short illness. He was 71 years old.

Requiem Mass was celebrated by Father Michael Canny at St. Columb’s Church, Waterside, yesterday morning. Many mourners had to stand outside the Church, such was the size of the congregation.

Tributes were paid to the grandfather who only last year had celebrated his Golden Wedding anniversary with his wife Eleanor.

In his homily, Father Michael Canny said; “Noel was a person who loved life and who loved to laugh but more so he loved making others laugh.

“Noel’s love of laughing was infectious. He had a great ability to make others laugh and change their mood.”

It was an ability which saw the comedian travel the country compering shows. Father Canny said: “Noel was welcomed by all sections of the community and was frequently booked to entertain in Rangers Supporters Clubs, among other venues.”

Fr Canny paid tribute to what he described as Noel’s “strong faith”.

“His Catholicism and his prayer were deeply important to him.”

Mr. McBride had a lifelong connection with Derry City Football Club and was buried along with a club jersey. A microphone and a snooker cue also representated lifelong interests.

The congregation heard how Noel’s first job was at the Brandywell selling tickets for the half-time draw. Noel later went on to join the Derry Journal as a compositor.

It was his work as a compere and comedian which brought him to popular attention and earned him the love and respect of the city.

Hundreds of messages of support have been passed to the family following Noel’s passing.

At the Derry City versus Dundalk game at the Brandywell on Friday evening, a minute’s applause was held as a mark of respect to Mr. McBride. Representatives of Derry City Football Club, including manager Declan Devine and team captain Kevin Deery, were among the congregation at the funeral.

Derry City Councillor, Lynn Fleming said: “Derry is deeply saddened from the news that Noel has passed away. He was a larger-than- life character and worked tirelessly for local charities over the years. My thoughts and prayers and those of the people of the area are with his wife Eleanor and the McBride family circle and friends at what must be a very difficult time.”