Private service as Jim Molyneaux leaves his beloved church for the last time
Belfast Telegraph journalist Eddie McIlwaine was the only member of the media permitted to attend the private funeral of former Ulster Unionist Party leader Jim Molyneaux
Tears were shed in the homely little parish church of St Catherine's at Aldergrove as Lord Jim Molyneaux's coffin was borne down the aisle after a quiet and private funeral service where he was baptised nearly 94 years ago.
It had been the former UUP leader's request that only members of the choir in which he sang for 80 years and the Select Vestry in which he served should join parishioners at the ceremony.
Rector Rev William Orr was assisted by Canon Sam McComb.
The church folk with whom he worshipped at St Catherine's within Flying Station Aldergrove for so many years were visibly moved by the service.
The only guests who joined parishioners were former Church of Ireland Archbishop Most Rev Robin Eames, the present Bishop of Connor, Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Rev Martin Smyth, a retired Presbyterian minister, Rev Clyde Irvine, a former preacher in St Catherine's and the Rev William Hoey, a retired CoI clergyman.
The choir sang his favourite hymn Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind. The oak chair parishioners presented to him several years ago was forlorn and vacant in a corner of the choirbox.
"That chair was for him, a fine tenor in the choir," said organist Peggy Farr. "Even when he was in the RAF during the war and involved in politics afterwards he always did his best to make it home for Sunday services and people were glad to see him."
Family mourners were sister-in-law Agnes, widow of his late brother Billy, nephews Ian and Stephen, niece Janice and great nieces Caroline, Claire and Naomi.
He was taken to Belfast's Roselawn for cremation.