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Moving tributes from Eamonn Holmes and Rory McIlroy on Father's Day

By Allan Preston

Published 20/06/2016

Rory McIlroy with his dad Gerry
Rory McIlroy with his dad Gerry
Arlene Foster photographed with her father John Kelly
Eamon Holmes' father Leonard

Eamonn Holmes has paid a moving tribute to his dad, as well-known faces across Northern Ireland celebrated Father's Day with messages on social media.

The Belfast-born Sky TV presenter tweeted a picture of his late father Leonard standing beside his work van. A carpet fitter, he took Eamonn everywhere with him in the vehicle which he called The Magic Carpet.

Commenting on the image, Eamonn wrote: "Twenty-five years gone. Still think of you every day Daddy - especially today."

He also posted a photo from his own early days as a dad, holding one of his young children on his shoulders saying: "You can't be a dad without giving your kids a ride like this".

Leonard died of a heart attack, aged 64, in April 1991 but his advice still resonates with Eamonn.

"My father's work standards and work ethic were very high and although he was a worrier about where the next job would come from, I saw him liberated when he became self-employed in 1968," he told the Belfast Telegraph in 2013. "He taught me by example to work for myself rather than have one boss and he also said that if a thing was worth doing it was worth doing well - he was a stickler for that and very proud of his work."

First Minister Arlene Foster also paid tribute to her late dad John Kelly, posting a photo of them together and captioning it with his words: "Where is she now? Have you seen your sister?".

And she added: "Thanks for caring Dad. Remembering the fun on Father's Day".

Mr Kelly, a farmer and RUC officer, died five years ago, aged 81.

The DUP leader has said her only regret about becoming First Minister was that her dad, once seriously wounded in an IRA attack, wasn't able to see her elected to the post.

Many other high-profile figures in Northern Ireland also took the time yesterday to praise their fathers. Ann Travers - whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA in south Belfast on April 8, 1984, as she walked home from Mass - remembered her father, Thomas, a judge who was the intended victim.

She wrote: "Happy Father's day to my wonderful Dad Tom. I hope you are having fun in heaven with Mary, your parents, sisters and Uncles. I love you Dad, and think about you every day. You were the most gentle, wisest, most kind, most thoughtful, most generous, most funny man, I have ever had in my life. Love you Dad xxx".

Golfer Rory McIlroy was struggling at the US Open, but still had his dad Gerry in his thoughts: "Disappointing week to say the least", he tweeted.

"Fighting my swing a bit at the minute but working hard to get back on track. Happy Father's Day!"

Dr Leah Totton, the Londonderry-born doctor who wowed Alan Sugar to win the Apprentice in 2013 tweeted: "Happy Father's Day to my amazing Dad - the most kind, selfless, funny man and always in my corner. You made me everything I am".

In typically irreverent form, Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes took a break from training for the Rio Olympics to post a picture of himself with retired champion jockey AP McCoy.

Joking, he commented: "My Ma told me everything last night. Happy Father's Day daddy!"

Yesterday Barnes was treated to lunch by daughter Eireann (1) and partner Mari.

"Becoming a dad is brilliant," he told the Belfast Telegraph last week. "I just can't remember a time when Eireann wasn't around and I can't imagine what life would be like without her."

Fellow Belfast-born Olympic boxer Michael Conlan (23) also spoke about his 12-week-old daughter Luisne with partner Shauna Olali.

"It's amazing to have someone who loves you unconditionally and to love them back unconditionally," he said.

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