The man behind stunning Lurgan 'Traveller Queen' funeral wreaths

Brendan Hughes
01 October, 2016 01:00

MEET the west Belfast man behind the spectacular floral displays at the funeral of a woman dubbed the 'Queen of the Travellers'.

Jim Watson spent 20-hour days perfecting upwards of 60 stunning tributes to mother-of-13 Violet Crumlish (59), who was buried in Lurgan on Thursday.

Among the creations were flowers in the shape of a Chanel handbag, a caravan, bingo board, iPhone, lipstick, a Mayfair cigarette, bottles of wine and WKD alcopops.

Two flatbed lorries were required to carry the wreaths and flowers for the hugely popular member of the Travelling community.

Mr Watson said the floral tributes – thought to cost thousands of pounds – were his biggest ever project in his 20 years as a funeral wreath-maker.

"It was bedlam. Absolute pressure," the father-of-two from Dunmurry said.

"There's two things in our game that you only get one shot at, and that's funerals and weddings. It has to be 100 per cent right every time."

His artificial flower creations also included a karaoke machine, a bottle of Olay anti-ageing cream, a frying pan, and a pint of Guinness.

"My brain is trying to get round it all. There was that amount of stuff, it's hard to remember everything," he said.

Mr Watson (47), whose business Simply Wreaths supplies floral displays on a wholesale basis, said he received help from some friends to fulfil the order.

The flowers were organised through Belfast-based Flowers Are Us, which Mr Watson praised for how it helped and catered for the Crumlish family.

He said it was "definitely a big relief" to finish the job successfully.

"Obviously it's nerve-racking. You want everything to be right for the family. When I delivered everything they were all pleased – it was just relief," he said.

Hundreds of mourners gathered to bid farewell to Mrs Crumlish, who died last weekend after a long battle with cancer.

A white carriage drawn by four white horses led her cortege as 10 black limousines brought mourners to St Peter's Church.

Mrs Crumlish lived in the Bristol area but had returned to her homeland in Northern Ireland as her death drew nearer.

During Requiem Mass parish priest Fr Joseph Wozniak described her as a "very gentle and kind person" who was "fondly described by family members as the Traveller Queen".

At the graveyard, doves were released into the air as her white coffin was lowered into the ground.

Family and friends dropped yellow roses onto the coffin lid while singing songs, including the Whitney Houston classic I Will Always You Love You.

In August thousands of Travellers arrived in Bristol from across Europe to pay their respects to Mrs Crumlish in the final stages of her illness.

01 October, 2016 01:00 News

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