Pat Hume was ‘pure of heart’ and a true peacemaker, funeral told

Aidan Hume says his mother was the ‘calm at the centre of chaotic times’

Pat Hume was “pure of heart” and a true peacemaker, mourners at her funeral have been told.

“Much has been said about John and Pat and their unity in peacemaking. It is all true,” Fr Paul Farren said. “If John brought the brilliant mind to peacemaking, then Pat brought the pure heart.”

Rather than simply remember her, he asked mourners to pray that “we will be inspired to do as she did and to see God in the other and so be true peacemakers ourselves”.

Paying tribute to Mrs Hume during his opening remarks, the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, said the "great people of the world are not those who are famous for being famous but those who help others dream that great things are possible".


Mrs Hume, widow of the late SDLP leader and Nobel peace prize winner John Hume, died on Thursday aged 83 after a short illness. Tributes have been paid from around the world to her own contribution to peacemaking.

Requiem Mass was celebrated at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Monday.

Among those who attended were President Michael D Higgins, the Taoiseach's Aide de Camp, Caroline de Burca, and the Queen's representative, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Helen Quigley.

Many current and former members of the SDLP were in attendance, including Colum Eastwood, Mark Durkan, Brid Rodgers, Joe Hendron, Austin Currie, Denis Haughey, Sean Farren, Nichola Mallon, Claire Hanna, Matthew O'Toole and others.

Also present were the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble, who shared the Nobel peace prize with John Hume, and his wife Daphne, who had worked closely with Mrs Hume to support victims of the Troubles following the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

The UUP Assembly member Mike Nesbitt also attended, as did the mayor of Derry, DUP councillor Graham Warke. Sara Canning, the partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee, was also present.

Right hand

In an appreciation read by Mrs Hume’s son Aidan, he said his father would often say “that he was a parcel and Mum delivered him” but this was only a “small part” of their story.

“Mum was at his right hand throughout his entire life – his best friend, his closest confidante, his loving wife, his trusted adviser, his political antenna.

“I don’t think Dad would mind me saying this, she was definitely the more glamorous side of the partnership,” he said.

For us children, he said, “she was the calm at the centre of chaotic times, able to impart a sense of safety and love which sustained us when the world around us was full of uncertainties”.

In his homily, Fr Farren paid tribute to her “empathy” as “unique and incredible”, which was why she found it “abhorrent that anybody or any government would believe that a line could be drawn under the pain and suffering of people”. This was an apparent reference to the UK government’s controversial plans to introduce a statute of limitations barring all Troubles-related investigations and prosecutions.

“Her commitment to truth and to justice was consistent and unquestionable,” he said.

Fr Farren paid tribute to Mrs Hume as “a most humble and beautiful person” who “always lived for others” and who “lived the vocation of motherhood in her home, in her community here in Derry and on the world stage”.

Oasis of love

As a parent, he said, she had “created an oasis of love and security” for her children in the middle of often tumultuous political times. “When your home was being attacked, because your parents were committed to peace, your mother held you and protected you and never allowed you to lose confidence in the truth that peace is always more noble and stronger than violence.”

She “mothered us all”, he said, and “her greatest example of mothering came in how she cared for John, in his long illness, in the last years of his life”.

“With John she was forever patient, forever loving, forever gentle and an example to us all.

“Today we pray that she has heard John calling ‘Pat’ again and that he has brought her to the heart of God where they are united forever.”

The prayers of the faithful, which were read by Mrs Hume’s grandchildren, included prayers for migrants and refugees “and all those who have been displaced through trauma, poverty and injustice” and for all those who are excluded from access to learning.

Another prayer remembered that “Granny loved nothing more than a walk along the Foyle” and valued the “healing power of nature”, and asked that “leaders take seriously the urgency of the climate crisis and act to ensure that all our children and grandchildren can enjoy a healthy planet”.

Mrs Hume’s remains were carried out to a traditional song from the Donegal Gaeltacht, Trathnóna Beag Aréir, in a special arrangement by musical director Frank Gallagher, who also directed the music for her husband John’s funeral in the same cathedral just over a year ago.

A fluent Irish speaker, the Hume family spent many summers in the Donegal Gaeltacht, and the song was a favourite of her late husband.

“It’s as if Pat is being brought home to John,” Mr Gallagher said.

Her five children carried the wicker coffin wreathed in flowers out of the cathedral. As the funeral cortege left the grounds she was applauded by people who had gathered inside the grounds and along the route to the City Cemetery, where she was laid to rest alongside her late husband.

The SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, said it was a “sad day for the Hume family above else, and for the people of Derry, who are united in their grief today”.

“But we are also very thankful for the life that Pat had, and for everything that she gave to us and for us, she gave an awful lot for the people of this city and the people of this island.

"She sacrificed so much but was committed to the very end to the peace process and to changing our society, to lifting people out of poverty and to creating a more just Ireland and we're very grateful for everything you did for us," he said.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times