Rally car leads cortege at Manus ‘Mandy’ Kelly’s funeral

Donegal driver remembered for his warm and cheerful personality

The cortege led by his car arriving at St Columba’s Church in Glenswilly, Co Donegal, for the funeral of rally driver Manus Kelly. Photograph: Joe Boland/PA Wire

The cortege led by his car arriving at St Columba’s Church in Glenswilly, Co Donegal, for the funeral of rally driver Manus Kelly. Photograph: Joe Boland/PA Wire


The rattles and revs of a Subaru Impreza S12B WRC pierced the air in the Co Donegal parish of Glenswilly on Thursday as it led the funeral cortege of the late rally driver and councillor, Manus ‘Mandy’ Kelly, to St Columba’s Church.

The Subaru was the car Mr Kelly drove with his co-driver Donall Barrett when they won the Donegal International Rally in 2016, 2017 and last year. Mr Kelly was killed in a fatal crash at Fanad Head on Sunday during this year’s rally.

“Life is a journey,” said Fr Paddy Dunne, the chief celebrant of the funeral Mass. “For some of us, it is short and we don’t understand why. Manus lived a full life and touched so many hearts just by who he was.”

Some 700 people attended the funeral. Among them were Mr Kelly’s wife Bernie, their five children Annie, Mandy, Conan, Bella and Charlie, who arrived in the Subaru which was driven by Declan Boyle.

Also present were Mr Kelly’s parents Donal and Jacqueline, his brothers Donal, Caolan, Teigharan and Leon, and sisters Breigeen, Kelda, Ciara and Shannagh.

There were representatives of the worlds of motorsport and politics, including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Taoiseach’s aide-de-camp Comdt Caroline Burke.

Mr Kelly was elected to represent Fianna Fáil on Donegal County Council in last month’s local elections.


Fr Dunne said it was a tragedy that Mr Kelly had died so young, but he noted how much the 41-year-old had achieved in life.

Offerings brought to the altar included a photograph of his beloved family, the Jim Kennedy Memorial Trophy from his rally victories, his helmet, a miniature rally car, a Honda 90 and a tractor in memory of his grandfather, from whom he got his name and nickname ‘Mandy’.

Other offerings included a Glenswilly GAA jersey, a Donegal flag and a Donegal County Council tie, to represent how his life in politics had only just begun. A photograph of Mr Kelly’s businesses in Letterkenny — Tailored Facility Solutions, Haz Waste and Uptown Cafe – were also brought to the altar.

Fr Dunne said Mr Kelly had won many trophies in his career and was seen as a legend by rally fans, but it was Bernie and his children who were his priority.

“When he went in somewhere, he went in smiling and cheerfully greeted people. He didn’t take the smile with him, he left that smile in the person’s heart,” the priest said.

Fr Dunne spoke of Mr Kelly’s pride in his Glenswilly GAA community and how his voice would be missed from the sidelines. He coached and encouraged many children in the best way, and was described as a big kid himself.

“He never grew up in many ways and that is why kids loved him and he loved kids,” the priest said.

There were guards of honour from Mr Kelly’s fellow councillors, Glenswilly GAA, Glenswilly National School and the Donegal Motor Club. Following Mass, his coffin was carried through a rally finish line arch before he was taken on the final stage to Conwal graveyard.