William Dunlop: Minister's pain as he prepares third funeral for family
The Presbyterian minister who will officiate at tomorrow's funeral of William Dunlop last night described the rider's death as "heartbreaking".
"There is no other word to describe what has happened," said Rev John Kirkpatrick, who has been chaplain to the Motorcycle Union of Ireland for the past 25 years.
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The NW200 chaplain also officiated at the funeral of William's uncle Joey and his father Robert.
Last night he spoke movingly of the William he had known.
"William was very quiet, a lovely lad," Rev Kirkpatrick said.
"In some ways, he had qualities of both his father and his uncle.
"Joey was that quiet man who raced and just got on with it. Robert had incredible determination and courage.
"In some ways, William had a kind of a marriage of both of those elements of their character in him."
Describing William as "a competitor who would never sacrifice his principles", the minister added: "I watched William racing, his achievements speak for themselves.
"He had already won 15 races on the Skerries course over his career, and Joey had won 17 races there."
Rev Kirkpatrick said that people often only see one dimension of the riders - their life on the track - but that he had the privilege of seeing the other facets of their lives.
"We all know that William didn't go to the TT because of concerns about the baby his partner Janine was expecting," he said.
"He chose to stay home. I think that says a lot.
"Some people present motorcycle racers as 'race at all costs, win at all costs' - but William made a very responsible choice to miss the TT.
"Fatherhood changed so much for him.
"It happens to many people. When they become parents it changes their lives, and I think it had a very profound effect on William."
Rev Kirkpatrick said William's family life was certainly becoming more and more important to him. "It's heartbreaking to see a family in so much pain," he said.
"We all feel the loss. There are hardly words to describe how we feel. You run out of words.
"You just have to trust that your days are planned out for you."