Northern Ireland news

Columnist Anita Robinson 'was contagious with joy'

Floral tributes at the funeral of Anita Robinson at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry on Saturday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

IRISH News columnist Anita Robinson was a “wordsmith” and a “rogue” and the world was so much brighter because she was in it, mourners at her funeral have been told.

Mrs Robinson (76), who was also a weekly commentator on BBC radio, died after a short illness last week. One of Northern Ireland’s most prolific writers and commentators, her unique and often wicked take on life was hugely popular with Irish News readers.

Colleagues from the world of journalism and media were among mourners who joined her daughter Sarah and brother, Ted Armstrong at her Requiem Mass at St Eugene’s Cathedral in her native Derry on Saturday.

Television presenter and producer Joe Mahon, former SDLP leader Mark Durkan and Undertones musician Mickey Bradley were joined by colleagues from the BBC and The Irish News. At the start of Mass, close friend, Mary Murphy read a poem composed by former BBC presenter Frank Galligan.

Cathedral administrator Fr Paul Farren compared Mrs Robinson’s ability with words to the words used by Irish patron saint, St Bridget on whose feast day, February 2, she died. He said that following the death of her late husband, Trevor, who was always referred to as “the loving spouse”, Mrs Robinson kept going and also “kept everybody else going”.

The funeral of Anita Robinson at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry on Saturday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

“She was energetic; she was dramatic and she was colourful,” he said.

A “wonderful teacher” throughout her life, she was dedicated to the children she taught and saw perfection in them and brought them to life.

Fr Farren said: “Anita Robinson was contagious with joy.”

He added that Mrs Robinson brought joy into places she herself had never been.

“She brought joy to kitchen tables in the morning when the lines of her column were read out through giggles and laughter. What St Brigid did with the rushes, Anita could do with the dips and pieces of life.

“Anita could pick up the most ordinary parts of our lives and she could name them and she could describe them and she could allow us to perceive them in ways we never saw before, often in hilarious ways. She was a wordsmith and she was a rogue and the world was so much brighter because she was in it."

Addressing Mrs Robinson’s only daughter Sarah directly, Fr Farren said that if she had to describe the mother she wanted, she could not have got anyone “more perfect” than the mother she got.

He said it was interesting that from next year, St Brigid’s feast day would be marked in Ireland by a bank holiday.

Fr Farren said: “You’d expect nothing less for Anita than that the anniversary of her death would be declared a bank holiday; she would truly love it.”

A private cremation will be held at a later date.

:: In tribute to our much-loved columnist, we will be reprinting some of Anita Robinson's classic columns in her usual Tuesday slot over the next four weeks, beginning tomorrow.

 

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