Balcony fall Belfast man Colin McGarry was 'loyal and faithful friend', mourners told
A Liverpool fan who died in a balcony fall while he was in Spain to watch his club become European champions has been hailed as a "true and loyal" friend to all.
Hundreds of mourners who packed into Sacred Heart Church in north Belfast yesterday were told their presence was a living testimony to how highly regarded Colin McGarry (48) was in the community.
"To see so many people here is a great testimony for the family from which they might take a little consolation," Fr Neeson said.
"It just shows how well he was liked and what a generous man he was. What a great friend he was to so many."
The football fan was on holiday in Benidorm with friends on June 1 when his beloved team lifted the Champions League trophy following a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in Madrid.
"Just to show that none of us are perfect in this life, he supported Liverpool - sadly that's why he was in Spain that weekend," Fr Neeson said, wryly.
"He was with friends when his life ended so suddenly."
The Skegoneill scaffolder fell from the balcony of a hotel in the Calle Gerona area at around 1.45am on Sunday morning (June 2) just hours after watching the match.
His family, including mum Lyndia and fiancée Gail, had to wait two weeks for his body to be repatriated before they could say their final goodbyes.
Fr Neeson expressed gratitude to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust which helped bring Colin's remains home, relieving his loved ones of a huge burden during their "terrible" grief. "What they did for this family you could never repay," he said.
"Not for one moment did any of us think we would all be gathered here today for a Requiem Mass for Colin," the clergyman continued.
"If we feel like that, imagine how Gail feels, and his mum Lyndia."
Fr Neeson recalled how Colin discovered a passion for boxing when he was a young man and joined a boxing club in the Oldpark area where he grew up. "He was very good at it and we know that because of all the medals he won," Fr Neeson said.
"Sadly, through certain circumstances, he wasn't able to continue with it or who knows what he might have been.
"But that's the way life is - there are many twists and turns in the road."
The former barman and golf course groundsman also loved the outdoors. However, mourners were told his most defining moment happened in Stewarts supermarket on Belfast's Antrim Road where he worked 26 years ago.
"It was there that a little fella called Cupid came in and an arrow was struck," the priest said.
"Gail and Colin met each other there and that's when their relationship began.
"That was their love and to say goodbye is very difficult."
Fr Neeson said there would never be time to share all the stories of the popular man who "loved his social life", but he encouraged all those present to keep their memories of Colin alive.
"He was a very loyal and faithful friend to all who knew him," he added.
Colin - who adored his pet dogs Jazz and Rainer - will also be sorely missed by his brothers Kieran, Dennis and Aaron and sisters Lynette and Roslyn and wider family circle.
Loved ones wept as they walked behind his coffin, draped in a Liverpool FC flag, as it was carried to his final resting place in Carnmoney Cemetery.