Belfast Telegraph

Standing ovation at funeral for Michael McGinley for search teams

Family lead applause for volunteers at service

By Donna Deeney

Rescue organisations who were part of a nine-week search of the River Foyle for a missing 27-year-old man, were given a standing ovation by the congregation at his Requiem Mass.

The poignant gesture was made after Fr Neil Farren, celebrating Mass at St Columb's church, expressed the gratitude of Michael McGinley's family to the search groups, whose volunteers sat among the congregation.

Many of the mourners wore white T-shirts emblazoned with RIP Wee Lumpa - the family's pet name for Mr McGinley - whom Fr Farren described as a man with a "complex mind that had him tortured this past while".

The congregation was told how the deaths of the Waterside man's father and mother had a devastating effect on his mental health which, despite their best efforts, his siblings could not save him from.

Fr Farren continued: "Michael's family were always there for him but his mind would not allow them into his space. He lived these past years darkened by chaos and grief.

"He knew of their concern despite his frail mind and they kept the contact open.

"Their's was a love story that went beyond the call of duty, which was seen by all since Michael's mind closed in on him nine weeks ago.

"Since then the family and others have been searching the banks of the River Foyle twice daily, even in the most wintry of weathers.

"Nothing fazed them in their dignified search, they never gave up hope of bringing Michael home."

Fr Farren asked the congregation to join in the family's appreciation for the efforts of the volunteers from Foyle, Search and Rescue along with their counterparts from Search Team North West, the Community Rescue Service, Mourne Search and Rescue, and Boyne Search and Rescue.

The family stood in grateful appreciation and applauded the volunteers - the congregation, many of them in tears, joined them in the standing ovation.

Fr Farren said the nine weeks since Mr McGinley was first reported missing had been horrendous for the family but they had shown great dignity throughout.

He continued: "They have been through every emotion in the textbook, but over and above it all they have been brave and their dignity has been noticed and remarked upon.

"Know too of the dignity you showed Michael in life and in the time he had been apart from you these past couple of months.

"Let that dignity you have shown stay with you in the darkness of this time and may it light up your life and keep you strong and find solidarity with each other."

Following Requiem Mass, Mr McGinley was laid to rest in Ardmore Cemetery.

Belfast Telegraph

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