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'We won't see his like again': farewell tribute to Brian Coll

Priest tells mourners showband legend was 'an artist in the truest sense of the word'

Brian Coll

Mourners at the funeral service for legendary showband singer Brian Coll were told the world has lost someone who was "unique" and a "genius".

Mr Coll (79), who died of a heart attack on Saturday, was described as someone who was born to be different at the Requiem Mass in Sacred Heart Church in Omagh.

"This is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done, he has been such a part of my life, all my life," Fr Brian D'Arcy told the congregation.

He said he first met Mr Coll in 1956 and they had been friends since.

"Any person's life cannot be summed up in a few words... that is surely true of the legend himself, Brian Coll," Fr D'Arcy said.

"We could be here till Christmas.

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Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

"He was a unique character the likes of whom we will never see again - neverending song of love, key is changed but the music is still the same.

"Covid-19 has robbed us of a time to show respect and honour to a man as great and famous as Brian Coll."

The entertainer passed away after collapsing on the side of the road in his home town.

Fr Brian thanked the ambulance crew, local shop workers and the PSNI for trying to save the veteran singer.

Mr Coll first made his name as a solo artist before fronting such well-known groups as The Plattermen and The Buckaroos.

He died just a month after his former bandmate Pio McCann.

He is survived by wife Helen; daughters Kathy, Sharon and Helena; son Brian, brothers and sisters and a large wider family.

He was buried in St Mary's Cemetery.

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Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

While a limited number were allowed inside the church for yesterday's service, many more gathered outside or watched on a webcam.

In his homily, Fr D'Arcy remembered his friend as someone who did not operate according to any clock or other people's plans.

"But he always got there, show always went on, always finished and punters were happy," he added.

He also described how the singer sometimes found it difficult because he believed life was changing too quickly for him and that he felt he was being left behind.

"He did not have time for everything, but he had time for people, a song, a chat, a story," Fr D'Arcy added.

"He had strong opinion about a lot of life, saw the way the world was going and did not particularly like it."

The priest added that it was a "pity that he did not have a wake", because he loved going to them.

"He did not like the dark so he would not go home until dawn... stories, stories.

"He was a man who brought peace, happiness and consolation."

He described the singer as a "genius" and an "artist in the truest sense of the word".

Mr Coll had the vision to help people in life through his singing," he said.

The priest mentioned that he sang at his ordination, that he was the reason Fr D'Arcy became involved in the music business, how he took him on a motorbike ride in Co Wicklow, and that he brought the cleric to Nashville in 1972.

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Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

Family, friends and fans at his funeral in Omagh yesterday

"Sometimes his genius was not known in his home town," the priest said.

"But the likes of Charley Pride said he was as good or better than him."

The celebrant talked about how all his "great friends" in the band businesses phoned the priest over the last couple of days. He also mentioned how he had officiated at the funerals of 14 people, including those in the music business, in a short period of time.

The service closed with a rendition of I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen, Mr Coll's first big hit.

"He called his daughter after his first big hit. I suppose not a bad idea," he said.

As the service ended Fr D'Arcy said Mr Coll would have been "very thankful for his family".

Belfast Telegraph


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