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Final farewell to brave Enniskillen coronavirus victim Larry McManus

Family agony over distancing as dad (93) buried

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Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits at the grave side of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday. Picture by John McVitty and taken with the kind permission of the McManus family

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits at the grave side of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday. Picture by John McVitty and taken with the kind permission of the McManus family

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits at the grave side of Enniskillen man Lawrence McManus towards his grave at Cross Cemetery on Saturday. Picture by John McVitty and taken with the kind permission of the McManus family

Undertakers dressed in white hazmat suits buried one of Northern Ireland's oldest coronavirus victims on Saturday.

Larry McManus (93) was laid to rest in Enniskillen after 10 members of his family formed a guard of honour at Cross Cemetery.

Brave Larry had lost his fight against the virus a few days earlier at the nearby South West Acute Hospital.

Undertakers John McKeegan and Brendan Hynes, dressed in their protective suits, wheeled his remains along a narrow path to the family plot.

His grieving loved ones, some wearing masks, wiped away tears as they saw for the first time the sealed wooden coffin before it was buried in a freshy dug grave. Father Raymond Donnelly performed a blessing from 30 feet away.

Mr McManus' family were not allowed to hold their father's hand as he was dying nor could they comfort one another on Saturday morning as they stood heads bowed. As his coffin was lowered into the ground they each edged forward, still metres away, to catch one last glimpse of the burial through the headstones.

"I feel empty. I just wish it was something else that took him and not this terrible virus," his daughter Valerie Trotter told The Impartial Reporter newspaper.

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Lawrence McManus, who died early this week in South West Acute Hospital, after Covid-19

Lawrence McManus, who died early this week in South West Acute Hospital, after Covid-19

Lawrence McManus, who died early this week in South West Acute Hospital, after Covid-19

"We understand why we can't have a proper funeral service but it's just so difficult for the family."

Valerie explained that she and her sisters Audrey Carson and Dorothy McManus had to wait 48 hours to find out if he had died from coronavirus.

"We got the call from the hospital when the test results came back, and it has been terrible ever since. I thought to myself that he had it, it was in the back of my mind, but it's still a shock."

He was a wonderful father and grandfather. He was just the best and couldn't do enough for you. He was always there at times of trouble; he was there for us, each and every one of us Daughter Valerie Trotter

Mr McManus died of Covid-19 on Wednesday having also been diagnosed with double pneumonia.

A picture of a fishing rod on the wall of the hospital room in ward six where Mr McManus was treated was a fitting reminder of the oasis of calm that he sought by fishing on Lough Erne.

It is in this room where Valerie last saw her father less than four weeks ago and where they talked about his love of the Fermanagh Lakelands, a memory that she says she will forever cherish.

"It was the beginning of the coronavirus scare and the hospital allowed just one person in at a time. He smiled at me and we had a wee chat about the grandchildren, as we always did, and the picture of the fishing rod. I said: 'My goodness, you'd think this room was made for you'. When you talked to him about fishing his face lit up.

"He said he was very tired and I said I would let him sleep. He gave me a smile and closed his eyes. I gave him a kiss on the head and that's the last time I saw him," said an emotional Valerie.

"He was a wonderful father and grandfather. He was just the best and couldn't do enough for you. He was always there at times of trouble; he was there for us, each and every one of us.

"I wish I could have been there with him when he died but it wasn't to be.

"He was a great age but I think the longer you have them the harder it is when you lose them," said Valerie.

Belfast Telegraph