Belfast Telegraph

We can all learn so much from Jimmy, funeral gathering told

Mourners at St Mary’s Church in Creggan, Londonderry, for the funeral yesterday of James Brolly
Mourners at St Mary’s Church in Creggan, Londonderry, for the funeral yesterday of James Brolly
James Brolly
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Several hundred people came out in Londonderry yesterday to pay tribute to homeless man and much-loved local character, James Brolly (59).

Affectionately known as 'Scotch Jimmy', he had made the city's streets his home in recent years. He died on Monday at Altnagelvin Hospital after a short illness.

Tributes poured in for him online and a Justgiving page set up by SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan raised over £2,000 to cover funeral and headstone costs.

Speaking at his Requiem Mass in St Mary's Church in Creggan, Father Daniel McFaul spoke of Jimmy's past career as a jockey, horse trainer and circus worker in his homeland of Scotland.

He described Jimmy as a "man of the streets" who "people were better for knowing".

"He was known the length and breadth of Derry," he told mourners. "He lived with the philosophy 'live and let live'. He was a remarkable character in many ways. You could say he was a real 'Mayor of Derry'.

"He was a very gifted poet who could hold a conversation with anyone, young or old, rich or poor, homeless or settled. And that has become evident with the number of people here today for his Requiem Mass and evident by the number of posts on social media.

"Possibly people judged the book by its cover, but when they experienced the book, they walked away better off from reading it," Fr McFaul added.

"He was a witty man who was never known to have been stuck for an answer. He was kind hearted who could have pulled anything from the famous trolley he pushed around: from a teddy bear for a child, a box of biscuits or even a cake with candles for the girls at Damien House (homeless support centre). His trolley was like Aladdin's Cave and held all his earthly possessions.

"We can all learn so much from Jimmy and his life. About what is important and how to treat people, how to live."

Speaking after the service Paul McCartney, deputy manager of the Night Support Service for homeless people in the city, said he was overwhelmed at the outpouring of grief.

"The cross-section of different folks in attendance at Jimmy's funeral was testament to the respect he had from many all over the Derry area," he said. "It will be unusual not to see his Millennium Falcon, what we jokingly called his walking aid and trolley, and indeed it's trusty navigator, making the journey from Damien House to Guildhall Square in the mornings.

"In a world in which the concept of individuality slips everyday from view, our guy was a torch-bearer."

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