Belfast Telegraph

Derry says last farewell to favourite sons Martin McGuinness and Ryan McBride

By Donna Deeney

Looking down from the City Walls into the Bogside and Brandywell yesterday, there was little indication that within 24 hours the area would be full of ordinary people, politicians and important dignitaries to mourn two of Londonderry's favourite sons.

The small church of St Columb's, Long Tower, is where Requiem Mass will be said for both former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride.

Yesterday the sun shone on the tourists milling around, taking selfies in front of the landmark Free Derry Wall and the republican monument, many of them failing to notice or pay much attention to the two large flags flying at half-mast within a few feet of each other.

Leaving the Walls and walking down through the streets, there was a palpable air of anticipation.

It is here that the world of sport will first gather at 10am to pay tribute to Mr McBride, whose young life was cut short so suddenly and unexpectedly.

And it is here that the wider political world will come just four hours later for the Requiem Mass for IRA gunman turned peacemaker Mr McGuinness.

Ryan's death on Sunday, aged just 27, sent shockwaves throughout this close-knit community where he was born. The defender was reared within the shadow of The Brandywell stadium he would later grace in the famous Candystripes.

Still reeling, this same community woke to the news on Tuesday morning that Mr McGuinness had also passed away.

The silence that fell across the Bogside and Brandywell on Tuesday still hung in the air yesterday as people made their way along the streets to the wakes of the two locals who shared a passion for Derry.

Making his way to the McGuinness family home, Thomas Bradley said: "We would not have the peace we have if it wasn't for him and we owe him for that.

"I remember the gas hanging in the air in this place, the nightly gun battles, and the sounds of bombs going off across the city.

"Who isn't glad that that has stopped?

"And it was Martin McGuinness that brought that about. He deserves our thanks and our prayers, and so do his family."

In the early afternoon the queue was already growing of people waiting patiently to go into the McGuinness family home.

It grew steadily in size as the evening wore on.

Waiting to pay her respects was Angela Doherty.

She said: "I have known Martin McGuinness pretty well all of his adult life and I feel like I have lost a son of my own.

"It wasn't like he forgot where he was from - he went out of his way to tell the world where he was from.

"He was that proud of the Bogside and we were proud of him.

"I am broken-hearted for Bernie and for all the family. This place will not be the same without him."

Belfast Telegraph


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