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Mark Farren: Farewell to a hero, on and off the pitch

Football star Farren laid to rest beside baby triplets

By Donna Deeney

Published 06/02/2016

Mourners carry Mark's coffin
Mourners carry Mark's coffin
Mark Farren’s wife Terri-Louise with mementos from Derry City and Glenavon
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
Derry players join the cortege
Ex-Linfield star William Murphy
John Hume
Mark Farren with his wife

Brokenhearted Terri-Louise Farren clutched the football shirts of her husband, Mark, and followed his coffin as it was carried to his final resting place.

Mrs Farren was supported by family as she attended his funeral at St Mary's Church in Ballybrack, Co Donegal, the same church where the couple were married and where their triplets, who tragically died soon after birth, are buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Mark Farren, Derry City's all-time record goalscorer, had battled for the past eight years against a cancerous brain tumour.

Mourners spontaneously applauded as his remains were carried to the graveyard. Many of those gathered wore football scarves of Derry City and Glenavon, the two teams he was most associated with.

Hundreds of mourners packed into the church for Requiem Mass, among them deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Foyle MP Mark Durkan and many leading figures from the world of football on both sides of the Irish border.

Mark lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday and, since then, thousands of tributes have been penned to the 33-year-old Donegal man.

Yesterday, players from Glenavon and Derry City formed a guard of honour to guide Mark's coffin into St Mary's where Fr Michael Canny, a personal friend, led the service.

The jerseys Mark wore at Glenavon and Derry City were carried to the altar along with a number of items representing key elements of Mark's life.

Derry City FC has now retired the number 18 jersey in his honour.

Fr Canny told mourners that he and Mark were at the gym just before Christmas 2008 and how he admired how hard Mark was training and how fit he was, little realising that only days later, on Christmas Eve, Mark's cancer diagnosis would be confirmed.

The congregation heard how dedicated Mark was to his chosen profession, and that his love for the game was surpassed only by his love for Terri-Louise to whom his marriage was, Fr Canny said, the happiest day of Mark's life.

Fr Canny said: "In the past eight years Mark fought the good fight assisted by Terri, his family and his friends.

"Football is a game where you tackle your problems and score your goals and, in Mark's short life, he left an indelible mark on those involved in football.

"He had desire, vision and a dream inside him, and he went for it but, despite his actions on the pitch, he was a modest, unassuming person, he let his feet and head do the talking for him.

"Mark was an avid fan of his manager, Stephen Kenny, and in his days with Derry there were training camps before the season began.

"Terri's birthday is in February and so it was that Mark missed Terri's birthday for years, but Mark's life was complete when he met Terri and the happiest day of his life was their wedding day.

"Today, it is time to mourn someone very special and it is a time to admire and remember Mark as a dedicated goalscorer who loved life and whose like we may never see again."

Belfast Telegraph

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