Pat Hume laid to rest - ‘We are all beyond grateful for the life of this incredible woman’
Colum Eastwood spoke of an ‘end of an era’ as the civil rights veteran Pat Hume was laid to rest in Derry on Monday.
Speaking outside St. Eugene’s ahead of Mrs. Hume’s Requiem Mass, the SDLP leader said: “It’s a sad day for the Hume family above anybody else but I think the people of Derry are united in grief.”
He reflected that while today is primarily a day of mourning it is also an opportunity to give thanks for all the service Pat Hume had given to her beloved Derry.
“She gave an awful lot for the people of this city and the people of Ireland. She sacrificed so much but was committed to the very end to the peace process and changing our society and lifting people out of poverty and creating a more just Ireland. We are very grateful for everything.”
Mrs. Hume, who died aged 83 last Thursday, had lain in repose from shortly after 8 pm on Sunday when her remains arrived at the Cathedral. Mourners from all over Ireland started arriving to pay their respects from 10 am this morning.
President Michael D. Higgins travelled in person while Commander Caroline de Búrca, Aide-de-Camp to An Taoiseach, was there on behalf of Micheál Martin. The Mayor of Derry and Strabane Graham Warke was there to represent the people of Derry. Elizabeth II of Great Britain and NI was represented by the former SDLP mayor of the city, Helen Quigley, who was there in the role of Deputy Lord Lieutenant.
A phalanx of serving and retired SDLP MLAs, councillors and MPs filed into the Cathedral shortly before 11am. They were joined by some of those who had followed Pat and John in their pursuit of peace and civil rights from the earliest days.
These included Bríd Rodgers, Austin Currie, Joe Hendron, Sean Farren and Denis Haughey. Local party stalwarts of the old school - John Tierney, Mary Bradley and Mark Durkan among them - were also there to mourn a dear friend.
David Trimble, with whom Pat’s husband John shared the Nobel Prize for Peace, also travelled for the service.
The former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader Mike Nesbitt paid his respects too.
Pat Hume was afforded a state funeral in all but name today in deference to the lifetime of service she rendered to the people of Derry and the high esteem in which she was held.
But inside the Cathedral mourners were reminded that a family was saying goodbye to a mother and matriarch.
Her son Aidan paid poignant tribute at the start of the service.
Pat Hume came from poor but generous people from Barnes in Donegal and this heritage had informed how his mother had lived her life, he reflected.
She had had a vocation professionally as a teacher and as an Irish language enthusiast but it was in partnership with her late husband John that she would make her mark as both a mother and an activist.
“Dad would always say that he was the parcel and mum delivered him but that only tells a very small part of the story.
“Mum was at his right hand throughout his entire life, his best friend, his closest confidant, his loving wife, his trusted advisor, his political antennae and - I don’t think dad would mind me saying this - she was definitely the more glamorous side of the partnership,” Aidan joked.
Chief celebrant of the Funeral Mass, Fr. Paul Farren, in his Homily, described Pat Hume as the ‘most humble and beautiful person’.
“Much has been said about John and Pat and their unity in peacemaking. It is all true and if John brought the brilliant mind to the peacemaking then Pat brought the pure heart,” he said.
The Prayers of the Faithful were read by her grandchildren.
“Granny was the glue of our family and we all knew how loved we were,” read one, while another declared, “Granny touched the lives of everyone she met with her gentle smile and twinkling eyes. She was genuinely interested in people and loved nothing more than hearing their stories and offering newcomers a warm welcome.”
The air of Séamus Ó Grianna’s Tráthnóna beag aréir was played at the close of the service before Pat’s remains were carried to the waiting hearse. A small group of onlookers paid their respects from Infirmary Road but as the funeral cortege made its way out of the Cathedral grounds onto Creggan Street the streets were lined and there was an outbreak of spontaneous applause. People stood at their doors on Marlborough, Beechwood and Laburnum to say their farewells and there was further applause as the cortege passed West End Park, the place Pat and John had lived together for many years. All along the Lone Moor people paused to pay their respects as the procession made its way to the City Cemetery where Pat Hume would be interred alongside John in their final resting place.
“Mum knew everyone and everyone knew mum,” was Aidan’s tribute today. “That’s just the way she was. A trip to the supermarket with her would often turn out to be a half day event. As her good friend and colleague John Tierney would often say, the only person who could beat John Hume in an election in Derry was Pat. Whilst we’ll never fully find the words to express what an amazing person she was and we are all very sad today, we are all beyond grateful for the life of this incredible woman.”
Pat Hume is mourned by her children Thérèse, Áine, Aidan, John and Mo, her sons- and daughters-in-law, Kevin, Willie, Kela, Gail and Dave, her grandchildren Aedín, Michael, Roisín, Dee, Daniel, Ruairí, Marni, Úna, Ronan, Ciara, Isabel, Eamon, Ollie, Rachel, Darragh and Aoibhe, her great-grandchildren Aoibhínn and Clodagh and her sister May. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dhílis. RIP Pat.