Cllr Charlie McHugh laid to rest
Castlederg came to a standstill today as Sinn Féin Councillor Charlie McHugh was laid to rest.
Large numbers of mourners gathered outside the Mc Hugh family home at Hillview Park from early morning. As the coffin of the veteran republican councillor emerged the National Flag and a Tyrone shirt were placed on it by Charlie's son Ruairí and life long friend and comrade Dave Cameron.
Led by a lone piper and flanked by a guard of honour, members of the immediate and extended family circle carried the coffin out to the junction of Castlefin Road, where Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness formed part of the first group of pall bearers representing Sinn Féin and were followed by others including: the Strabane Sinn Féin Council grouping; members of the local Harvey/Mc Glynn/Connolly Cumann, Castlederg; neighbouring Sinn Féin cumainn in the 'Derg area', as well as groups of pall bearers representing old comrades and life long friends from the local St Eugene's GAA Club in Castlederg.
Despite driving heavy rain, numbers following the cortege continued to swell as it made its way along the half-mile route to St Patrick's Church where large numbers of mourners where also waiting both inside and outside on the streets.
The Mountains of Pomeroy, a tune much loved by Charlie, was played as his coffin was carried into the Church. Parish Priest Fr Patrick Doherty was joined by four other priests in co-celebration at the Requiem Mass. During a highly emotional ceremony, there were poignant offerings and readings from family members. The strains of the 'Foggy Dew' rang out as Charlie's remains were carried from the Church to their final resting place in the adjoining graveyard. Before the burial ceremony, Charlie's wife Sylvia was presented the National Flag by Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness.
At the Graveside ceremony, Strabane Sinn Féin Councillor Gerard Foley spoke about Charlie's death being an irreplaceable loss to family, community and Sinn Féin and before introducing Pat Doherty MP to deliver the main oration he described his close friend as a 'Giant of a Man' and as 'the backbone of local community' whose contribution will only be realised in the fullness of time and who will be sorely missed by all.
During his oration, Pat Doherty spoke of Charlie as being a family man first and foremost and said that as a community and as republicans everyone stood united in grief and solidarity with Charlie's wife Sylvia, daughters Seodhna and Sara, son Ruairí, grandchildren Oisín, Cahir, Conor, Dearbhla and Róis, mother Minnie, sisters Veronica and Mary, brothers Hilary, Maolíosa and John and extended family circle at this time of unbearable loss.
He said that Charlie not one for fanfare but was best known for the quiet, steady, and constant way he worked for people and got things done. He said that Charlie's republican activism long preceded his first election as a Sinn Fein Councillor to represent the people of the Derg Electoral area of Strabane District Council in 1985 and his subsequent re-election ever since and it that was in no small part to the work that Charlie Mc Hugh had done that Sinn Féin now held three of the five Council seats in the Derg Electoral Area.
The local MP spoke about Charlie's passion for the GAA and his beloved Tyrone and said that as someone who had given unwavering service to the GAA down through the years it was a fitting and poignant tribute when the Sam Maguire Cup was brought to the wake house yesterday morning.
Continuing he said that Charlie Mc Hugh was a republican true to the ideals of Wolfe Tone and in the belief of uniting Orange and Green and said that in recent times Charlie had put a particularly renewed vigour into this important element of work.
Concluding his address he urged everyone, including friends, neighbours and comrades to rally round and give the Mc Hugh family every support to provide them comfort and strength in the difficult days and weeks ahead.
The Graveside ceremony concluded with a powerful rendition of Ámhrán na Bhfiann by Mary Dinning. ENDS