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Tragedy pilot's last wave to his father

THE pilot killed in last weekend's plane crash had just flown over his family home so that he could wave to his father.

Mourners at the funeral of Niall Doherty were told that flight instructor would always "make it his business to fly over the house and farm to see what dad was doing, to give him a wave and to make sure that he was okay, just as he did last Sunday".

Mr Doherty (31) died alongside trainee pilot Damien Deegan, also 31, when their light aircraft crashed outside Birr, in Co Offaly.


His younger sister, Eadaoin, gave a moving tribute to her big brother at his funeral in Dunkerrin, Co Offaly.

She described her brother as the golden child.

"Parents dream of having the perfect son. One who loves, shows responsibility, does without asking, is humble, thoughtful and one who can have fun too. Niall epitomised this," she told a packed church.

Ms Doherty said the family are convinced he is in heaven, not just because of his strong faith, but because "his loyal companion, his dog, a German Shepherd called Tanya, who went to be with him on Monday night and will frighten St Peter to let him in through the pearly gates".

"My brother would not want us to be overwhelmed with sadness.

"He was a strong and positive person and would always look for the best in any situation, and would tell us to just get on with it. He would want us to do the same," she added.

She urged those assembled to "make sure that we celebrate his life and his memory lives on with all of us as long as we live".

Acknowledging the sense of shock and sadness, Fr Lorcan Kenny praised the "exceptional community" who rallied around the Doherty family as they grieved.