Funeral of Derry City star Mark Farren takes place in Donegal
FANS, friends and teammates of former Derry City football star Mark Farren broke into applause as his funeral cortege arrived for Requiem Mass in Co Donegal.
The Derry City team formed a guard of honour at St Mary’s church, Ballybrack in Inishowen on Friday for the funeral of the 33 year-old who died on Wednesday following a long battle with cancer.
There were heartbreaking scenes as Mark, who played most of his football with Derry City, was laid to rest alongside his children Terri, Marlie and Millie, who all died around the time of their births in 2014.
The former footballer won fame with Derry City FC, becoming the club’s leading goal-scorer. He also played with Finn Harps and with Glenavon.
Current Glenavon manager, Gary Hamilton, as well as a number of club representatives joined Derry City past and present players and management – including manager, Kenny Shiels and former manager, Stephen Kenny - at the funeral.
Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood joined mourners along with SDLP MP, Mark Durkan and Sinn Fein assembly member Raymond McCartney as well as former SDLP leader John Hume.
The former player’s coffin was draped in the Derry City number 18 jersey that he wore with such distinction as well as the Glenavon jersey, his last club.
Fr Michael Canny told mourners Mr Farren touched many lives.
“Mark’s short but highly influential life has left an indelible mark on the life of many people, particularly those involved with football and Derry City FC in particular,” he said.
A keen Derry City supporter, Fr Canny said the former player was central to the club’s success.
“Despite his on pitch success, he was very modest and unassuming. He was never a person to talk up or boast about his achievements. He left his feet and head do the talking,” he said.
The priest recalled both the happiness of the player’s marriage and the sadness following the deaths of the couple's triplets shortly after their premature birth in 2014.
“His marriage to Terri in 2009 was a very happy occasion for him. He loved his wife and football and loved the prospects of being a father.
"Unfortunately his time as a father was to be very short because of the death of their triplets, Terri, Marlie and Millie.”
Fr Canny said his family, friends and fans should mourn his passing but should also recall the special memories.
Tributes have poured in for Farren, including from President Michael D Higgins, who said that “those of us who attended the League of Ireland and had the pleasure of seeing his many appearances will recall his great skills and sportsmanship."
“They will be joined by the public in general in admiring his courageous battle against incredible odds and they will want to send their sympathy and solidarity to his wife and partner, Terri Louise Farren.”
Sports Minister, Carál Ní Chuillín said she was saddened to learn of the death.
“His legacy will resonate for many years, not just among football fans but, in communities across the north west,” she said.
Mr Eastwood joined calls for a new stand at the Brandywell stadium to be named in Mark’s honour.
He said: “It will be a small but important gesture to all that Mark meant to Derry City FC over recent years.”
Derry mayor Elisha McCallion was the first to sign a book of condolence which opened in the city this week.
There have also been calls for a planned new stand at the re-developed Brandywell stadium to be named after him.