Northern Ireland news

John Hume's grave has already become a place of pilgrimage

Bríd O'Neill travelled from her home in Mallow, Co Cork to visit John Hume's grave at Derry city cemetery.
Seamus McKinney

JUST a month on from his passing, the former SDLP leader’s grave has already become an attraction for people from all over Ireland, according to Seamus Breslin who operates the Friends of Derry City Cemetery tours.

A small wooden cross marks the Nobel peace prize winner’s grave in the lower end of the cemetery. At his Requiem Mass, Mr Hume’s son, also John, said his father was “first and foremost a Derry man”. His final resting place is, perhaps aptly, a simple grave among those of his fellow Derry men and women, belying his description as “Ireland’s greatest”.

“It overlooks the Lone Moor Road and the Brandywell and I think there’s something right about that,” Mr Breslin said.

The tour guide said people were visiting the grave to stand and say a prayer in increasing numbers.

“With the staycations, I’m talking to people from Dublin, Wexford and all over and when things open up, I’ve no doubt they’ll be coming from overseas to see it,” he said.

Mr Breslin said people were asking about Martin McGuinness’s grave and also Sr Clare Crockett’s. However, the biggest interest in the last few weeks has been in Mr Hume’s final resting place.

Bríd O’Neill, who travelled from in Co Cork to Derry to visit the grave, said she felt she had to make the pilgrimage because he was "such a great man".

Ms O’Neill, from Mallow, said: “He was a great man. I saw him when Bill Clinton was here a few years ago in the Guildhall; we came up for that and I met John.”

The Cork woman, who is related to the late Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said she felt emotional while standing at the former leader’s grave.

“He was special. He did great things for Ireland. He was Ireland’s greatest,” she said.

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