Thursday 17 August 2017

'A hero and an idol' - Mourners pay final respects to motor racing champion Simon McKinley (34) following fatal crash

The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Motor racing champion Simon McKinley (34) was a "hero and an idol" to people in the sport, his funeral ceremony was told today.

Mr McKinley's remains were brought to the Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul village this morning for the ceremony to celebrate his life which was officiated by humanist celebrant Brian Whiteside.

His coffin was adorned with white and red roses, trophies he had won over his prestigious career and his racing helmet.

A guard of honour was provided by his friends from the world of motor racing. They had travelled from all over the country.

The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
The coffin of Simon McKinley being carried from The Seamus Ennis Centre to the graveyard. Naul, Co. Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

His widow Deirdre told mourners that Simon proposed to her in 2012 and they were married six months later.

Their son Rory arrived in 2014. "Simon relished every moment with him," she said.

Deirdre, referred to some of the many trips they had enjoyed with their hill climbing friends.

"Knowing how happy he has been is giving me comfort and I hope that by sharing this, it does the same for everyone who cared about him," she said.

Rory Stephens, a friend a fellow hill climber said that Simon had three great loves, his family, hill climbing and having a laugh.

"What most impressed me was the support and encouragement he gave to newcomers in the sport. He was their hero and their idol and he gave them so much support, Mr Stephens said.

He said that Simon was a very modest person. "He impressed in motorsport and in life," he said

The dad-of-one was killed when his car crashed during an event in Clare last Saturday. Despite the best efforts of event emergency crews, Mr McKinley died at the scene.

The four times reigning Irish Hillclimb and Sprint Champion, Mr McKinley had been taking part in the Clare Motor Club Hill climb.

Simon and his wife Deirdre had been dubbed "Ireland's fastest family" due to his record, and Deirdre's as one of the highest ranking motorists in the world.

Just two weeks ago, the Herald spoke with Mr McKinley and his wife about their mutual love of motorsport. The couple have an 11 month old son Rory.

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