‘A man who left a smile wherever he went’.
That is how Manus Kelly was described by Fr Paddy Dunne at his funeral Mass in Glenswilly this afternoon.
Hundreds of people packed into St Columba’s church while many more gathered on the lawn outside to say a final farewell to the father-of-five.
It is five days since Manus Kelly was killed on the Fanad Loop stage of the Donegal International Rally, an event he won three times.
In a fitting tribute, it was the Subaru Imprezza he won those three titles in that led his coffin to the little church high on a hill looking over Glenswilly.
Four different guards of honour were formed as the cortege made its way from the Kelly family home to St Columba’s and on to Conwal cemetery – one by Donegal Motor Club, one by Donegal’s councillors, a third by Glenswilly GAA Club and finally by pupils and staff of Glenswilly National School.
Among those in attendance at the funeral was Manus’s co-driver Donal Barrett. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was also there as was Caroline Burke, Aide de Camp to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Staff from three businesses Manus operated – Tailored Facility Solutions, Uptown Cafe and Haz Waste – were also on hand to pay their respects.
As she entered St Columba’s Manus Kelly’ wife Bernie offered a gentle smile to all those who had gathered outside for the funeral service.
Ahead of the Mass, a number of items were brought to the altar, each of them a symbol of Manus Kelly’s life. Among them was the Jim Kennedy Memorial Trophy, presented to the winner of the Donegal Rally each year. A family photo was also presented by Manus’s son Mandy while Caolan handed over a Glenswilly GAA jersey. Manus’s racing helmet also formed part of the offerings as did a little Honda 90, a Donegal County Council tie and a glass ornament given to him as part of a civic reception held for him and co-driver Donal Barrett in 2018.
Addressing the packed church, Fr Paddy Dunne, one of nine clergymen involved in the service, welcomed everyone, particularly the ‘rally family’ who he said had been such a big part of Manus’s life.
Fr Dunne said the 41-year-old was a man loved deeply by the community in which he lived.
“Wherever he went he took a smile with him but he never took it back with him again, instead he left it in the hearts of those he met,” said Fr Dunne.
“He knew he was loved so deeply, in fact he could not have been loved any more deeply.”
Following the church service, Mr Kelly’s remains were led through a race finish arch bearing the words: Rest in peace Manus.
See the Donegal News on Monday for further coverage