Northern Ireland

Irish government to be represented at Éamon Phoenix funeral as tributes to celebrated historian continue

Dr Éamon Phoenix in Linenhall Library. Picture Hugh Russell
Dr Éamon Phoenix in Linenhall Library. Picture Hugh Russell

THE IRISH government will be represented among mourners at Friday's funeral of historian Éamon Phoenix.

It is not yet known whether senior government figures will travel to Belfast for Dr Phoenix's Requiem Mass at St Brigid's Church, however, Laurence Simms, joint secretary of the Irish Secretariat, will attend the service.

The Belfast-born historian and columnist with The Irish News, who died on Sunday aged 69 following a short illness, was a member of the expert advisory group established by the Irish government to advise it on matters related to the recent Decade of Centenaries.

Among the many tributes paid to Dr Phoenix, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he was "incredibly saddened" by news of the academic's death.

"Éamon takes to the grave an insight into the history of these islands that few will ever rival," the Lagan Valley MP said.

"Our deepest sympathies to his wife, daughter and wider family."

His party colleague DUP MLA for North Antrim Paul Frew recalled “a legend and a great storyteller of history”.

Stranmillis College, where Dr Phoenix enjoyed a long career, described him as "one of the pre-eminent historians of our time", who had an "ability to bring history to life".

"It is with great sadness that Stranmillis University College learned of the passing of our much-loved friend and distinguished former colleague Dr Éamon Phoenix," a statment on social media said.

"Éamon will be greatly missed by colleagues, former students, the wider Stranmillis community and beyond."

Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin said Dr Phoenix was a "most gifted historian, author and broadcaster".

He said the historian's 2021 webinar series on partition for the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference was "especially memorable".

The US Consulate in Belfast tweeted: "Many Americans gained a deeper understanding of this region’s complex history from his passion and depth of knowledge.

"Our thoughts are with his wife Alice, daughter Mary-Alice and his wider family."

The 1798 Belfast Walking Tour said Dr Phoenix's passing was "dreadfully sad news".

"We've lost our mentor and the man who give us the courage and inspiration to start our 1798 walking tour – we will miss his brilliance terribly."