The funeral of Brian Conlon, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful businessmen, has been held in Newry.
Over 500 mourners gathered at St Patrick’s and St Colman’s Cathedral in Newry on Wednesday to pay their respects.
Mr Conlon was the founder and chief executive of the world-renowned Newry technology firm First Derivatives.
Mourners heard that while Mr Conlon rose to great heights in the digital age, creating a world-beating plc with 2,400 employees, he remained an unassuming and understated human being.
A former Abbey Grammar student, the 53-year-old was married to Julie and had two young children.
For all his business success, Newry Cathedral’s parish priest Fr Desmond Loughran said his family of Julie, son Fionn (6) and daughter Danu (4), was his biggest achievement.
“With Julie and the two babbas, life was complete,” he said.
The city’s Hill Street had come to a standstill for the funeral, with people lining the street in a guard of honour and clapping as Mr Conlon’s funeral cortege pulled up at the cathedral.
Police kept a section of the street closed off for the duration of the funeral.
There were hundreds of young, smartly-dressed workers from First Derivatives’ offices in Belfast and its two premises in Newry. Close to the cathedral, the shutters were down on one of the two Newry offices. And across its 14 other offices in the US, London, Europe, Asia and Australia, a moment’s silence was held in memory of the boss.
At the start of Requiem Mass, a number of gifts were presented to represent Mr Conlon’s interests.
There was a newspaper and mobile phone — which Fr Loughran said symbolised Mr Conlon’s need to stay abreast of news — a map, as a reminder of his love for planning journeys on his beloved bicycle, a bicycle helmet and a book.
Fr Loughran recalled some of Julie’s memories of her husband’s interests and foibles.
He loved history and literature — particularly the ‘‘obscure” kind — and loved to read maps to learn about the drawing and redrawing of borders over the course of history.
But he added: “He was the man who lost mobile phones and passports by the score, and lost three wedding rings in one week — but yet, Julie loved him.”
And his mother Josephine had remembered him as a “divil, and loveable rogue” when he was a young child, but always a generous and giving older brother to his siblings Kathy, Ciaran and the late Ronan.
Mr Conlon died in Daisy Hill Hospital on Sunday after a battle with cancer.
Among those in attendance was Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy and members of Down GAA, for whom Mr Conlon once played.
County players and managers — including former manager Pete McGrath — dressed in coordinated blue suits.