Belfast Telegraph

Poignant farewell at funeral for Derry dad Emmett McClelland

By Leona O'Neill

A young father killed on the way home from his son's christening was in the prime of his life, mourners heard yesterday.

There were heartbreaking scenes as the funeral cortege of Emmett McClelland, who died after being knocked down near the border in Donegal at the weekend, made its way through the streets where he grew up in Londonderry.

The father-of-three, who was in his 20s, was hit by a car in Bridgend while walking home.

Mourners were led by Mr McClelland's young son Caiden, who carried a framed picture of his father ahead of a hearse bearing floral tributes spelling out 'Daddy', 'Son', 'Bro' and the nickname Mr McClelland's friends gave him, 'Click'.

Parish priest Rev John McDevitt told mourners at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Derry that no one could have known what heartache was to follow when Mr McClelland and his partner Jade were standing at the same altar christening their son - also called Emmett - last Saturday afternoon.

"We are numbed by the suddenness and the horror, we cannot understand it," he said. "We have many questions and we seem to have little or no answers. We don't want to believe or accept that the person we knew so well and have loved so much is dead. And, in a very real sense, we feel paralysed.

"Today there is a great emptiness in our hearts because Emmett has died. He was so young and so full of life. His work on this Earth was not finished.

"He was in the prime of his life and was healthy. He still had so much to do and so much to give to other people."

Fr McDevitt recalled how Mr McClelland was born into the Derry community and led his life there.

"He was a much-loved son and brother," he added. "He was also blessed with children - Caiden, Emmett and Riley.

"A few hours before his death he stood in this church very proudly with Jade and had their son Emmett Anthony christened. Little did we think when we were gathered here on Saturday that we would be back so soon."

The congregation heard that the only light in the days following the tragedy was that the community rallied round in large numbers to support the family.

It is the second tragedy to impact the family within the space of two years. In 2016 Mr McClelland's father Tony passed away suddenly after a fall at his home.

Mr McClelland died on what would have been his father's birthday. He was buried at the City Cemetery.

Belfast Telegraph

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