Belfast Telegraph

Homeless Catherine Kenny who died in Belfast doorway remembered as kind, much-loved soul

By Allan Preston

The funeral of a homeless woman who died on the street heard her described as a generous and much-loved person who tried to conquer her addictions.

Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Kenny, from Downpatrick, was found dead in a shop doorway on Belfast's Royal Avenue last Saturday morning.

Some 600 mourners turned out to pay their respects at St Patrick's Church in her home town yesterday.

Many friends, including members of agencies and charities which had supported her in the past, travelled from Belfast for the funeral.

Parish priest John Murray conducted the Requiem Mass, and spoke about Catherine afterwards.

"The mood I picked up was that although she had her faults and she had her demons with alcohol, she had tried and there were lots of people who loved her," he said.

"She was very generous, apparently. When she was out on the streets she'd have given her sleeping bag to someone else.

"Fr Stephen McBrearty, who is the chaplain in Hydebank, where Catherine sadly spent some time, said she was a lovely, gentle person and she never missed Mass when he celebrated it there."

During the service Catherine's brother-in-law Darren read a poem in tribute.

She is survived by her son Calum and siblings Paula, Lee-Maria and David.

"They were really cut up about it," Fr Murray said. "Inevitably at every funeral there are lots of tears, but they were particularly cut up. Although they tried to help her, they weren't holding it against her that I suppose she had let them down at times and let herself down, but they were very kind and understanding.

"She was somebody who was trying, but sadly the addictions were stronger than her."

After the service Catherine was buried beside her parents Michael and Kathleen.

She was the fifth homeless person to die in Belfast this year.

They included her partner William 'Jimmy' Coulter, from Ligoniel, who passed away last month.

Cathy Morgan, a close friend of Catherine's, posted a lengthy tribute online yesterday afternoon.

It said that she would remember her for her kindness and generosity.

She recalled: "On the last stretch of Catherine's life most of her clothes given to her over time - coats, jumpers, even shoes - she had given away to the homeless on the street because, as she said herself: 'They needed them'.

"She was not just someone who died in the doorway of a shop. She was a person, a human being, a daughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend. She had a family, she was loved, but addiction got a hold of her life."

Remembering a phrase Catherine was known for - "let me help you" - Ms Morgan praised the work done by those helping homeless people, but called for more support for those suffering from mental health and addiction issues.

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