Fans flock to pay last respects to Frank Carson
They came from all over, keen to thank Frank Carson for bringing joy and laughter into their lives.
A steady stream of mourners yesterday stopped to pay their respects to the late comedian as his body lay in repose in his beloved Belfast ahead of today’s funeral.
The 85-year-old’s family requested that the funeral parlour be open to the public to allow fans to show their love and affection for the funnyman.
Carson died at his Blackpool home last week after a battle with cancer but there was never any question as to where his final resting place would be.
And the high esteem in which the Belfast-born comedy star was held by his home city was evident in the number of people who arrived at O’Kane’s funeral home on Donegall Street to offer sympathy to his family.
The funeral home is just yards from St Patrick’s Church in the city centre where his funeral will be held tomorrow. Friends and fans arrived from all over Ireland — Belfast, Londonderry, Newry and Dublin — to sign a condolence book and pay their respects.
At peace now, he was wearing a pinstripe suit and immaculate black patent shoes, with his trademark glasses resting gently on the once animated face that so often raised smiles. A single red rose stem and Mass card nestled safely in his hands.
In his colourful life, Frank received accolades and praise from the Pope, the royal family, the old-school comedy fraternity, as well as a wide range of charities, educational institutions and individuals he went out of his way to help.
In a career spanning over six decades, he was known throughout the UK and Ireland for his humour and, of course, those famous catchphrases “It’s a cracker” and “It’s the way I tell ’em”.
His younger brother Paddy told the Belfast Telegraph he will remember his brother as somebody who brought a lot of “hope and laughter” to many people.
The 72-year-old author and public speaker has travelled to Belfast from his home in Canada with wife Deirdre and son Breen to celebrate Frank’s life.
“Of course, we are sad, but overall we are here to celebrate his life,” Paddy said. “He was a personality in many ways and an enigma in many ways. He was jovial and funny, yet there was a serious side to him. All through his life he strived to build bridges in Northern Ireland. His passion was uniting children in harmony through education and sport.”
One of Frank Carson’s dying wishes was for his nephew, Captain Breen Carson of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, to attend his funeral in full military dress.
Breen (37) is a decorated military hero due to his actions in Afghanistan.
He was Mentioned in Dispatches twice for devotion to duty, valiant conduct and courage in the face of the enemy after saving the life of a young soldier who suffered injuries in an explosion.
Frank was immensely proud of Breen’s achievements, including being presented with the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for leadership in Afghanistan by the Governor General of Canada and the country’s Chief of the Defence Staff.
Of his late uncle, an emotional Breen said: “He was a really grounded person and his legacy will be his kindness and warmth.
“This is reflected in his charity work and how he would help anyone he could. He never forgot his roots and was a big advocate for bringing people together.”
Frank’s Requiem Mass will take place at St Patrick’s Church at 11.30am tomorrow with burial to follow at Milltown Cemetery on the Falls Road in the west of the city.