‘Lady Diana of Travellers' Violet Crumlish to be laid to rest at Co Armagh funeral
THE 'Lady Diana of Travellers' will be laid to rest in Co Armagh later this week in a lavish funeral service.
Hundreds of people from the travelling community are expected to gather in Lurgan on Thursday to say their goodbyes to Violet Crumlish.
The 59-year-old mother-of-11, fondly described by family members as a 'Traveller Queen', died at the Northern Ireland Hospice in Belfast on Saturday after suffering from bowel cancer.
Her ill health made headlines over the summer when thousands from across Europe flocked to Bristol to pay their respects while she was being treated in hospital.
A white horse-drawn hearse will carry Ms Crumlish's coffin to St Peter's Church in Lurgan on Thursday for noon Requiem Mass.
Ten black limousines are being organised for the cortege. Red carpet will be laid and white doves released at the graveside at St Colman's cemetery in Lurgan for her burial.
The wake is being held at a funeral home on Falls Road in Belfast.
Family members have fondly described Ms Crumlish as a "real lady and a very religious person" who had visited Lourdes and Knock.
The Traveller pilgrimage to Bristol in August saw caravans and cars with Belgian, Swiss and Slovenian number plates, as well as British and Irish residents, arrive in Sneyd Park and other makeshift sites in the city.
Ms Crumlish's son Alex said the community had made the journey because his mother was so highly respected in Travelling circles.
"She is a queen and a princess, she is like Lady Diana to the Travellers," he told the Bristol Post in August.
"She is good to the poor and the sick - she is highly respected.
"She is like a mother to many in the Travelling community, which is why thousands are coming to see her.
"She is a lovely woman through and through and we are very proud that so many people are coming to see her."
However, the Travellers' arrival in Bristol caused a stir with locals who claimed they saw some people littering and using park bushes as toilets.
Ms Crumlish recently triggered a review of a council's housing register rules after being told she and her partner could not apply for a place on an official Travellers' site.
North Somerset Council confirmed the couple made the request around a year ago, saying they were homeless, and were rejected for not having a strong enough local connection.
A High Court challenge was launched against the decision but the case was settled before going to court when the couple were put on the register.