Daniel leads farewell to 'Girl from Donegal'
Published 12/01/2012 | 05:00
THE 'Girl from Donegal' made her final journey home yesterday -- singer Bridie Gallagher was laid to rest in her native Creeslough.
More than 500 people stood in silence on the footpaths of the town as the hearse, bearing the coffin of the singer, arrived in the town after a requiem Mass held earlier in Belfast. Ms Gallagher had lived in Belfast for the past 60 years.
As the cortege entered the town, country singing star Daniel O'Donnell greeted family members.
Ms Gallagher's son Jim wiped away a tear from his eye as he said: "Thank you everybody. Thank you so much for this."
He received a spontaneous round of applause before the hundreds of local people fell in behind the hearse and walked behind it as it passed through the town.
At Doe Cemetery, 2km outside Creeslough, hundreds more people waited for Bridie's return.
"It's a sad day for the people of Co Donegal," said Mr O'Donnell.
"The turn-out shows the affection felt for Bridie here in Creeslough. She was an incredible singer and a fantastic woman. We're glad she has come home."
Dozens of members of the extended Gallagher family packed into the cemetery as parish priest Fr Joseph Briody led the mourners in prayers.
Ms Gallagher's sister Maggie Curran and sister-in-law Bridget Gallagher were comforted as her remains were lowered into the grave.
"She's home now," said one local man as a young woman played 'The Town I Loved So Well'.
"She's been away a long time but she was always a Creeslough girl," said John McFadden.
Earlier, hundreds of mourners had attended a Mass for Ms Gallagher at St Bridget's Parish Church on Belfast's Malone Road.
Ms Gallagher had a hugely successful singing career and shot to fame in the 1950s. She went on to tour all over the world, becoming the darling of a generation of Irish emigrants in Britain, America and Australia.
"She was a real star," added Mr O'Donnell yesterday, "but she was someone who never forgot her roots."