Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to 'respected' Belfast undertaker Brendan Brown who has died at the age of 71

Tributes have been paid to a well-known Belfast undertaker, Brendan Brown, founder of PJ Brown Funeral Directors, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 71
Marie Louise McConville

Tributes have been paid to a well-known Belfast undertaker who has died at the age of 71.

Brendan Brown, founder of PJ Brown Funeral Directors, passed away on Wednesday night at his home in the north of the city with his family by his bedside.

The great-grandfather had suffered with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for the last decade and three years ago was diagnosed with esophagus cancer.

Mr Brown had formerly worked as a lorry driver and had initially planned to buy lorries to start a transport business.

However, as a young man he decided to become an undertaker, following in the footsteps of his brothers.

In 1977, he opened his first business out of a garage in the Brighton Street area of west Belfast, later moving to another premises on the Cliftonville Road.

He then moved to a lock-up on the Antrim Road but was burnt out of the location in June, 1988.

A few weeks later, he made an offer on a house with garages on the Oldpark Road.

He used the garages for his business and later his wife, Sadie and the couple's five children moved into the house in the grounds.

In 2011, Mr Brown opened a second premises on the Falls Road.

Among his employees at the two locations are his daughter, son and son-in-laws.

Speaking to the Irish News last night, Brenda Brown described her father as "the best", adding that he enjoyed his job as an undertaker.

"He just loved it," she said.

"I think it was more the fact he was out there helping families in their time of need, now we know what that feels like," she said.

"He respected everybody. He lived for his family".

Ms Brown revealed her father had been left "shell-shocked" in January 2018 when he met Pope Francis.

She said her parents had gone to the Vatican during a trip to Rome and during the visit, the Pontiff had come down towards them and shook hands with them.

"It was absolutely amazing," she said.

"Him and mummy were standing shell-shocked. Daddy had a very strong faith and we said the Pope was lucky he met my dad."

She added: "Everybody tells us daddy was proud of us but we are so proud of him. He will be sorely missed. We will miss him forever. My daddy was the best".

Requiem Mass for Mr Brown will take place today at St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street at 2pm. Burial will take place afterwards in Milltown Cemetery.

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