‘Goodness personified’: Tributes to Pat Hume as book of condolence opens in Derry

‘Pat was absolutely everything everyone has said and much, much more’ – former mayor

Many tributes have been paid to Pat Hume since her death, and all of them are true, SDLP councillor and former mayor of Derry John Boyle has said.

"Pat was absolutely everything everyone has said and much, much more," said a clearly emotional Mr Boyle. "She was like a mum to me. My mother was at school with her and I've known her since I was a child, when she was Mrs Hume who lived round the corner.

“Whenever you were with her, you knew you were with a friend. I loved her.”

The wife of the former SDLP leader and Nobel peace prize winner John Hume, Mrs Hume died at home on Thursday following a short illness.


By her husband's side for six decades until his death in August of last year, she was his rock and his most trusted political adviser; his "guiding light" without whom there "there would have been no peace process in Ireland, " SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said.

Members of the party were among the first to sign the book of condolence which was opened at Derry's Guildhall on Friday by the city's mayor, Graham Warke of the DUP.

“Pat was a good family friend to my parents and she was such a lady, a beautiful woman,” said Mr Warke. “It didn’t matter what religion you were – I don’t think that ever came into it for Pat – she just saw the goodness in people.

“The city is in a lot better place now, and I have no doubt it has a lot to do with what John and Pat did,” he said. “The book of condolence, and everything that’s been said, it shows what she meant to a lot of people throughout the city and the world.”

Outside in Guildhall Square, that view was repeated. “Goodness personified,” was how one woman described Mrs Hume, with another individual praising her “steadfastness” during difficult personal times, not least attacks on the family home.

“The Humes were part of the fabric of Derry, just wonderful people,” said Tony Hallows. “What they achieved, he couldn’t have achieved that without her.”

"She was the backbone of him," said Margaret Makowski. "He might have been the sailor of the ship but she was the second mate, she was the one steering the ship, and they had so much love and affection not only for each other but also for the city.

“Pat tried to unite the city as best she could, she was just a true Christian, the sort of person people, especially young ones, should try to aspire to. There are very few of such people left.”

The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, said that in many ways Mrs Hume’s death “marks the end of an era” .

He said people felt sadness for the Hume family, but also over the loss of a "wonderful partnership" in which they shared a passion for equality and justice that was in itself a template for what Northern Ireland could be.

“They did so much more together than they ever could have done individually.”

The bishop said his last memory of Mrs Hume was at her husband’s first anniversary Mass in August.

“She slipped off quietly at the end, she just wanted to go home again, and that was a sign and a symbol perhaps of the woman she was - a local woman, with her family around her, who lived a life of dedication to bettering this society.”

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times