Member of Birmingham Six Hugh Callaghan ‘sings at his own funeral’

The hearse carrying the coffin of Hugh Callaghan arrives for his funeral (Belinda Jiao/PA)
The hearse carrying the coffin of Hugh Callaghan arrives for his funeral (Belinda Jiao/PA)

Hugh Callaghan, one of the six men wrongly jailed for the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, has sung at his own funeral, a priest has said.

Mr Callaghan, alongside Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, John Walker, Richard McIlkenny and Billy Power, was wrongly convicted of murdering 21 people when two explosions ripped apart the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham in 1974.

The group were convicted in 1975 and jailed for life.

They were freed after more than 16 years, when the Court of Appeal in 1991 ruled their convictions were unsafe.

Birmingham Six celebrate victory
The Birmingham Six outside the Old Bailey after their convictions were quashed (Sean Dempsey/PA)

About 200 people attended Mr Callaghan’s funeral at The Immaculate Heart of Mary and St Dominic church in Homerton, east London, on Monday, where he was “a much-loved member of the congregation”, parish priest the Rev Patrick Allsop said.

Father Allsop said he was a major figure in the community partly because he had a magnificent voice. “He could sing unaccompanied with complete accuracy.

Read More: 

  • Tributes paid to Birmingham Six member Hugh Callaghan following Belfast man's death
  • Journalist who campaigned for Birmingham Six marks 30th anniversary of their release
  • Birmingham Six owe 'great debt of gratitude' to World in Action journalist Fitzwalter
  • Guildford Four and Birmingham Six 'seriously affected' Anglo-Irish relationship

“The most extraordinary thing is that he did a studio recording of his party piece, which is the great Irish song Danny Boy and that was played as he was carried out of the church.

“I think it’s the first time the deceased has sung himself out of a funeral mass.”

Hugh Callaghan funeral
The coffin of Hugh Callaghan is carried into the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St Dominic church (Belinda Jiao/PA)

Mr Callaghan also serenaded the ward in hospital shortly before he died, where he was being treated for a chest infection.

Mr Callaghan, who was 93, recovered from the chest infection but died from a heart attack on May 27, Father Allsop said.

He moved to London in 1991 after he was released from prison and began to attend the east London church.

Irish musicians performed during the funeral and the London Irish Choir attended the service, Father Allsop added.

Father Allsop said: “After he had been released after 16 years in prison he was sort of unsettled as to where he would feel happy and comfortable.

“But he eventually decided that the Irish community in London were the people he wanted to be with.”