Belfast's final farewell to Frank Carson

Published Saturday, 03 March 2012
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Hundreds of people have paid their respects to the late comedian Frank Carson, who was remembered as the "Prime Minister of fun" at his funeral in Belfast.

Belfast's final farewell to Frank Carson
Tony Carson follows the coffin of his father Belfast Comedian Frank Carson (© Pacemaker)

The service for the legendary Northern Irish stand-up took place in his home city on Saturday morning, at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Donegall Street.

Frank Carson died last week at the age of 85 in his adopted home of Blackpool after a battle with stomach cancer.

Stars of stage and screen including Eamonn Holmes, Lenny Henry, Stan Boardman and Roy Walker - and sportsmen Dennis Taylor and Barry McGuigan - all attended the Requiem Mass at the chapel where Frank married his wife Ruth more than 60 years ago.

The principal celebrant was retired Bishop of Derry Edward Daly, who gave a touching homily to one of his oldest friends.

"Frank once looked at me sadly after I tried to tell him a joke and he told me that I would never be a comedian," he said.

"So I am not going to try to be funny or witty this morning. I speak of Frank this morning merely as a dear and close friend, as a fellow Christian and Catholic, and someone who regularly brightened up my life and the life of this community during the 50 years that I have known him.

He was a Prime Minister of fun - that was his mission in life.

Bishop Edward Daly

"Frank made millions of people smile and laugh. He brightened up their lives. In his live performances he could light up an audience and make them laugh and laugh. That is surely a great service to humanity."

Mourners lined the streets at the funeral cortege made its way from the Catholic church to nearby St Anne's, where the Very Reverend John Mann lead a tribute and prayer for Mr Carson who was noted for his cross-community work and whose comedy appealed to Catholics and Protestants.

The coffin was carried out to the claps of onlookers to the refrain of "it's a cracker", with a recording of Frank singing with some schoolchildren.

His hearse also bore a floral tribute in the shape of a Christmas cracker in reference to his famous catchphrase.

Former UTV presenter Eamonn Holmes, who was a family friend and neighbour from the earliest years, paid tribute.

Mr Holmes said: "He is one of the most famous sons of Ulster - that sums up what he means to everybody in Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile comic Stan Boardman spoke fondly of the funnyman he remembered simply as "Uncle Frank".

He said: "Frank was a nice man, whenever he went into the room, even before he came into the room, he was approachable, he would go over and talk to people.

"He was a sort of uncle, everybody used to call him Uncle Frank.

"He did not offend anybody, his gags were brilliant and he was a funny man."

Frank Carson was born in north Belfast on 6 November 1926 to a family of Italian descent.

He grew up in the working class area Little Italy, near York Street and worked as a plasterer and electrician before joining the Parachute Regiment serving three years in the Middle East in the 1950s before turning to showbusiness.

His big break came when he won the talent show 'Opportunity Knocks' three times in the 1960s and went on to appear in The Comedians, Tiswas, The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.

A familiar face on UTV, the much-loved stand-up rose to fame with his trademark irreverent and irrepressible sense of humour, which entertained audiences across the UK and Ireland.

Following his funeral service, Frank Carson's coffin was taken around the city, stopping at the Sinclair Seaman's Church, where a wreath was placed opposite where he lived and grew up.

There was a large attendance as the procession made its way along the Falls Road and on to the comedian's final resting place Milltown Cemetery.

A relative delivered a eulogy at the graveside where Frank Carson was laid to rest.

© UTV News
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4 Comments
Brian in Ballymoney wrote (899 days ago):
A good man who lived a good life and, even on his journey, set an example for us all. Thank-you Frank.
steve in belfast wrote (899 days ago):
Thanks for all the laughs Frank, you were a cracker.Wise up henry Frank loved his roots and was proud to be from here.If you can,t laugh at yourself you are a sad man.
re ipso loquitor in Ireland wrote (899 days ago):
A titanic comedian that slipped away in the year of the titanics anniversary. Like the titanic will always be remembered RIP Frank
henry in north belfast wrote (900 days ago):
well the turnout says it all, never liked the guy but wished him no ill will made his fame outta running down his roots or maybe it was just the way he told em, rest in peace frank.
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