Belfast Telegraph

Belfast dad Patrick McDonnell remembered as devoted family man and master craftsman

The funeral was disrupted for a period because of a hoax bomb at the adjacent primary school

Mourners at the funeral of Belfast dad Patrick McDonnell who was killed after he was hit by a truck in North Carolina have heard how he was a devoted family man who was a passionate artist.

The 52-year-old father-of-three was an artist renowned for his skill in crafting stained-glass windows.

He was described as a "happy-go-lucky man" who was loved in his community.

Mr McDonnell leaves behind his wife Ursula and children Patrick (27), Shannon (26) and Melissa (23).

Mr McDonnell was also a grandfather to two and moved to America four years ago and would return to Belfast regularly, his most recent time over Christmas.

He was killed while out walking along a junction of Avent Ferry Road and Trotter Bluffs Drive, in the Holly Springs area.

Crash investigators in America said they would not be prosecuting the driver of the vehicle that struck Mr McDonnell.

On Monday his funeral was held at Christ the Redeemer Church in Dunmurry.

The funeral was disrupted for a period because of a security alert at the adjacent primary school.

Delivering the homily, Father Peter O'Kane said the master craftsman would be happy to see his coffin bathed in light from the church's beautiful stained glass windows.

He said: "Among the many high commendations of his work, a colleague from North Carolina described him as a genius in his field.

"As a craftsman and artist he brought the beauty of colour and design to many parts of Ireland and the States, from private homes to churches and public places.

"Patrick was passionate about his work and took great pride in everything he did, with meticulous care and attention to detail.

"I mentioned to the family how Patrick’s hands looked much older than the features of his face - they were hands that knew a lot of hard work from the time he was an appreciate to his father up to the day he died."

Fr O'Kane said Mr McDonnell - as well as his craft - was passionate about Celtic Football Club and had been since the team's 1967 European Cup triumph. Indeed his coffin was lined with a commemoration rug that Patrick had retrieved from a coal bunker paid £1, scrubbed clean and wore with pride for 13 years.

The priest went on: "He proudly wore his Celtic jersey and especially the one that was sent out to him for his 50th birthday with the writing on the back, 'Paddy Mac from the Lower Wac'. It must have turned a few heads and left many guessing, 'where’s the Lower Wac?'

"Patrick talked to everybody and anybody - he was a happy-go-lucky man who made friends everywhere he went - tributes have been pouring in from the length and breath of Ireland and from the States too.

"He never took a back seat but lived life to the full - always on the go, always smiling, and ready for any challenge. I’ve heard it repeated these days, 'He packed more into his 52 years that most people in a long lifetime.'

"He was the life and soul of a party and wasn’t shy about his far from modest opinion of himself as a great dancer and singing - ‘I was made for the stage’ he told Shannon recently, ‘love my singing, love my dancing, love Paddy Mac.’

"We know the old saying, 'A friend in need is a friend indeed' and that’s how Patrick was for many people - he had a generous and compassionate nature and quietly helped many people behind the scenes in times of need or personal crisis."

Fr O'Kane said that over everything, Patrick's family was what "truly mattered to him"

"He was devoted to them and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to be with them," said the priest.

"He worked long, hard hours, often clocking up a 16 hour day to make sure that Patrick, Shannon and Melissa had everything they needed - he was truly devoted to them and the grandchildren.

"When he and Ursula moved to the North Carolina, he looked forward to his annual trip back home to meet up with everyone again.

"A Belfast bap, Tatyo cheese and onion crisps and a fish supper topped the menu.

"A short time ago he made a photo collage of the family and had it placed above his work bench where he could look at it often during the day - the family was always in his heart and mind."

Ahead of the funeral Mr McDonnell's nephew Sean McCorry paid tribute, he said: "My uncle was a happy-go-lucky man who was much-loved.

"He was very well-known around west Belfast. He was known for his stained-glass work here. I'd say nearly all of the stained-glass in west Belfast was made by him.

"He was just a happy-go-lucky man and we're all just terribly shocked by the news.

"He's left behind a family who are just absolutely devastated."

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