Hume brought to Derry as candles in windows light his way

Nobel Laureate brought from Donegal ahead of funeral in St Eugene’s Cathedral

Though restricted through Covid-19 the people of Derry pay tribute to John Hume through candles and condolences. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

As John Hume’s funeral cortege made its way home from Donegal to his beloved Derry for the final time on Tuesday night, dusk was falling. In the doors and windows, candles were burning to light his way.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Hume family had asked that, rather than line the streets as the cortege passed, people should light a candle for peace either in their home or at their door.

When the hearse arrived at St Eugene’s Cathedral a socially distanced guard of honour lined the path from the gate to the door as Mr Hume’s coffin was brought inside. Those in the guard of honour also held candles in memory of Mr Hume, who died on Monday morning aged 83.

The wicker coffin was received by the Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown. The extended Hume family, including the Nobel Laureate’s wife Pat, wore masks as they entered the cathedral.

A short time earlier in Co Donegal, several hundred people gathered near the Hume home outside Moville to pay their respects to the former SDLP leader.

As the cortege emerged onto the main road those watching began to applaud. “We’re sorry. He was a great man,” one bystander shouted as the hearse passed.

The clapping continued, the sound rippling along the road as the procession made its way slowly towards Moville, and then to the Border and into Derry City.

“He was one of the most exceptional figures in Irish history, and we wanted to make sure we were here this evening to pay our respects,” said Ellen Barr. “We all have so much to thank John Hume for.”

“He made this his home, and he was part of this community,” said Brian McDermott. “He needed to be given his proper send-off.”

Among those who had gathered to pay their respects were the mayor of Donegal, Rena Donaghey, and Fianna Fáil TD and minister of state Charlie McConalogue. “John was a Derry man through and through but he was also as close to a Donegal man as you can get,” said Mr McConalogue.

Because of coronavirus around just 120 people will be allowed into the cathedral for the funeral Mass on Wednesday morning, most of them family and close friends.

President Michael D Higgins is expected to join Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney along with DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill for the Mass.

Mayor of Derry Brian Tierney urged people to follow the wishes of the Hume family by watching or listening to the funeral service on television, radio and live stream.