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Sobbing and applause as city's beloved priest begins final journey

By Nicola Anderson

Published 12/08/2016

"It's the closest you'd get to the death of a relative for the people of Derry," explained Richard Moore, the renowned charity worker blinded by a rubber bullet as a 10-year-old child on Bloody Sunday.

This was clear by the tears streaming down the faces of men and women as the coffin was carried down the central aisle and by the spontaneous round of applause that accompanied it, echoing with great warmth and passion around the walls of St Eugene's Cathedral.

It almost made the hairs stand on the back of the neck, so piercing was the sense of their gratitude to Bishop Edward Daly for all he did for them that terrible day and in the years since.

It was thought that the white bloodstained handkerchief waved frantically by the then Fr Daly on Bloody Sunday as he escorted a dying 17-year-old boy through the chaos might be carried to the altar as a special gift.

But it remains a special relic at the Bogside museum, for fear it might fall apart. Though a close personal friend of Bishop Daly, Richard pointed out that everybody in the city felt they were close to this man of such "extraordinary ordinariness" that he could be often met doing his shopping down at the local supermarket.

And he said that as a humble man, the Bishop would have been "shocked" by the turnout for his funeral - which saw the cathedral packed to standing room an hour before the Mass even began.

The families of Bloody Sunday have lost "a real anchor" and focal point, said Richard - who was himself described by the Dalai Lama as "an inspiration" because of his work for the charity Children in Crossfire.

As a poignant link to the events of that terrible day, the Bishop was buried in vestments purchased by Richard in tribute to a man he said can "never be replaced".

He last met him "a couple of months ago", and though frail, the Bishop had asked how Richard and his family were faring after the death of his mother a year previously.

A guard of honour was formed by the players of Derry City Football Club. Dr Daly had been a huge fan, and even went on a European tour with the club a decade ago.

Up to 25,000 people had streamed through the doors of the cathedral to pay their respects over the last number of days, some gently reaching to touch the face of the Bishop as he lay in state.

Chief mourners were Bishop Daly's sisters.

Fr Michael Collins, retired parish priest from the Bogside, who was in college in Rome with Bishop Daly, presented his sisters with a photograph of their brother taken at a football match in 1957.

Representatives were there from across the communities, including Angela Garvey, the Lord Lieutenant of Derry, the Queen's representative.

Dr Robin Eames, the former Anglican Primate of All-Ireland and Bishop Daly's counterpart in Derry in the early days, was there.

Monsignor Amaury Medina Blanco represented Pope Francis, while President Michael D Higgins was also present.

The Taoiseach was represented by his ADC, Commandant Kieran Carey.

Republic of Ireland minister Joe McHugh and the Dail's Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher were among those who attended.

The Nobel Laureate John Hume, Mark Durkan of the SDLP, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and musician Phil Coulter were there too.

As was Fr Aidan Troy, the former parish priest in Ardoyne in north Belfast during the notorious Holy Cross dispute 15 years ago.

A frail but determined figure in a wheelchair was Ivan Cooper - one of the Protestant leaders of the civil rights campaign and a founding member of the SDLP.

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