The daughter of much loved James (Jimmy) Brolly has expressed her sincere thanks to the people of Derry for the affection they had shown him.
Speaking before he was laid to rest yesterday, Kelly Campbell also said she wanted to share a photo of her father as he was when she was a child so people could see him in his younger years.
Mr. Brolly, who came from Ayrshire, Scotland, was described as a “remarkable character” by Father Daniel McFaul during Requiem Mass for the 59-year-old at St. Mary’s Church in Creggan yesterday.
His daughter Kelly told the ‘Journal’ that after many, many years of wondering what had become of her dad, she could now feel at peace knowing he is at rest.
She said she wanted to say “thank you to the town of Derry from me and my kids” for looking out for him and making it his final home.
At his funeral yesterday morning, Fr. McFaul recounted how in his younger years, Jimmy Brolly was a jockey and spent some time looking after horses.
Fr. McFaul told the large crowd that had gathered to pay their respects that Jimmy’s faith had manifested itself in “his loving thy neighbour”.
“He was known the length and breadth of Derry ,” he said, adding:
“He was a remarkable character, in many ways the real Mayor of Derry, a very gifted poet who could hold a conversation with anybody young or old, and that has been evident in the number of posts on social media.”
Fr McFaul said he had been contacted on Wednesday by a 15-year-old boy from Claudy who spoke of how he and his friends used to converse with Mr Brolly at the bus station and how was a ‘really smart man’.
Jimmy’s life and death was a “stark reminder to all of us of the power of addiction and mental illness” which “affects people at all ages and all creeds and all walks of life”, the local priest said, adding:
“Jimmy was a good man who suffered the greater part of his life. His suffering is not his identity; his identity is a man who was loved and who loved, a man who tried his best, who believed in God.”
Meanwhile the people of the north west have been thanked for their generosity after raising enough funds to cover Mr Brolly’s funeral costs.
In light of the affection local people had for Mr Brolly, SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan this week set up a fundraising page, which surpassed its £2,000 target in a matter of hours.
Mr Durkan said: “The affection that this city had for Jimmy has been palpable. Jimmy will be greatly missed, not least by the staff of Damien House.”
Among the hundreds of postings on Facebook paying tribute to, and sharing memories of, Mr Brolly, one local person said he had “managed to make the time to become friends with each and everyone of us.”.
Another posted: “Jimmy the gent, rest in peace now Pet. You were always such a gracious and intelligent man and thankful soul. Our city centre will never be the same without you.”