Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

In Pictures: Hundreds bid farewell at Boyzone star Stephen Gately's funeral

Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch carry out the coffin after the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin

Stephen Gately was today remembered in his community as an inspiration to young people and deeply proud of his working-class Dublin roots.

>>Click More Pictures to launch gallery

Grieving neighbours from the tough Sheriff Street area of the north inner city stood tearfully at times arm-in-arm during the poignant service.

While famous faces from the music and showbiz worlds rubbed shoulders, Stephen's old friends proudly paid tribute to him as a committed family man with generous spirit.

Paddy Feely, who knew Stephen growing up, described the Boyzone star as a gentleman.

"He was an inspiration to the country, to what young people can achieve Mr Feely said.

"People like Stephen, they had nothing but they achieved an awful lot.

"Did anybody ever think that a young guy from the inner-city would reach headlines on the world's TV and radio?

"But he never forgot where he came from."

Alan Hunter, who staged fundraising discos in the area, said he knew Stephen as a teenager.

"Before he became a popstar he wanted to be a dancer. That was his love," Mr Hunter, 50, said.

"He had terrific sprit and there isn't a family around here that Stephen wouldn't have given a signed portrait to."

The grieving crowd, clutching white roses, burst into spontaneous applause after Boyzone band members paid tribute at the end of the emotional Funeral mass.

They scrambled up lampposts, hung out of windows and perched precariously on traffic cones to get a better view of the church, and their hero's final journey.

One young girl, balanced on top of a wheelie bin, held a purple pillow case aloft with the words "RIP, Stephen we love you" emblazoned across it.

Farewell banners were also hung from nearby balconies.

Annette Kane, 53, from Donabate in north Dublin, stood by security railings clutching a postcard caricature of Stephen her daughter had bought at a concert.

A family friend of fellow Boyzone star Shane Lynch, she met Stephen many times.

"He was an absolute pet. He had time for everybody," Ms Kane said.

"No matter where we went he never forgot where he came from. He was just so down to earth.

Ronan Keating pays tribute

"Thank God he lived to see them (Boyzone) reunite. He always wanted Boyzone to get back together."

As the coffin was carried from the church fans burst into another round of applause throwing white roses onto the ground.

For many the emotion of the last week was just too much, with some questioning whether the famed band, reunited just two years ago, could now go on.

Carol Mulholland, 20, from Lucan, said Boyzone will never be the same.

"The songs that they sang, they just got you through the bad times and they made the good times better.

"Whatever song they sang they just got you," she said.

"I'd love them to go on because they are just such a big part of me and who I am."

Mr Hunter described Stephen as a true Dubliner, with a generous spirit.

"He loved everyone, remembered everyone, never ignored everyone and so generous a spirit. He would always come round here with concert tickets.

"Most pop stars when they make it big, they sort of buy a big ranch out of town for the family. But this family stayed in the community, and they were proud to be here."

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