Daughter of priest delivers poem at the arrival of his remains to Co Derry church following his death

Fr Arthur McAnerney passed away in hospital on Tuesday 
Fr Arthur McAnerney passed away in hospital on Tuesday  Fr Arthur McAnerney passed away in hospital on Tuesday 

THE daughter of a priest delivered a poem at the arrival of his remains to a Co Derry church following his death.

Fr Arthur (Arty) McAnerney's daughter Déarbhla is understood to have been invited to speak at a Mass for her father at the Church Of Our Lady Of The Assumption, Magherafelt.

Fr McAnerney died in hospital on Tuesday and his remains were brought to the church that evening where it is believed his daughter was asked up to the altar by parish priest Fr John Gates.

It is believed she read a poem at the end of the service and thanked people for the kindness towards her father, who was aged in his late 70s.

News that the priest had a daughter was first revealed almost 20 years ago when he admitted from the altar that he had fathered a child.

Parishioners at Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beragh, Co Tyrone applauded his sensational statement in November 1998.

Fr McAnerney is understood to have become involved in a relationship with a woman when he worked in Drogheda in the 1980s and fathered the child. He was later moved to Beragh.

He told parishioners that everyone who "had a right to know" already knew about the situation, but he felt he had to speak to parishioners following revelations in a newspaper.

He described at the time that he intended continuing his ministry and said: "I made the choice to remain a priest. People have been very understanding and supportive and I hope this will not make any difference".

The priest said he had tried his best to look after the child and her mother out of his own resources.

Fr McAnerney took on many high-profile role throughout his ministry, including comforting the relatives of those killed and injured in the Omagh bombing. He took part in the funerals of three generations of one family killed in the atrocity - Mary Grimes (65), her daughter Avril Monaghan (30) and toddler Maura.

He was also celebrant at the funeral of murdered PSNI officer Ronan Kerr, when he was parish priest in Beragh.

Prior to his death, Fr McAnerney served in the Magherafelt and Castledawson parish. He was also school chaplain at St Pius X College, Magherafelt and New Row Primary School, Castledawson.

His death was announced on the Magherafelt Parish Centre's Facebook page and drew hundreds of tributes for parishioners who described him as a "lovely gentleman" and a "genuinely great man".

His funeral mass was held at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh on Thursday followed by burial in St Patrick's Cemetery.