Information for media on the funeral liturgy for the late Martin McGuinness RIP

23 Mar 2017

At 2.00pm this afternoon Father Michael Canny will receive the remains of Martin McGuinness at the main entrance of Saint Columba’s Church, Long Tower.  Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, will then welcome distinguished visitors, family, and the congregation.

After the reception of the remains the concelebrating clergy will enter the sanctuary to begin the Funeral Mass.  This Mass will be available to view online on, the RTÉ News Now app, and also on the Long Tower Church webcam link:

After the funeral Mass and Prayers of Commendation, the burial will take place in the City Cemetery, Derry.

Message from Archbishop Eamon Martin read by chief celebrant Father Michael Canny
I bring condolences from Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, who is unable to join us this afternoon.  Archbishop Eamon, who visited Derry yesterday to pay his respects at Martin’s family home, has offered his Mass in Armagh this morning for the repose of Martin’s soul. He has asked me to extend once again his sympathy to Bernie and to all Martin’s family, loved ones, friends and party colleagues.

Presider and celebrant
Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry is presiding at the Mass.  Father Michael Canny, PP Glendermott and Strathfoyle Parishes, Derry is chief celebrant and homilist.

Main concelebrants
Clergy from within and without the Diocese of Derry.

Other Clergy & Representatives
Clergy from other Christian denominations.

Chief Mourners
The wife of the deceased, Mrs Bernadette (Bernie) McGuinness, their children Grainne, Fionnuala, Fiachra and Emmet and Grandchildren.

Cór Cúl Aodha under the direction of Peadar Ó Riada

All music as Gaelige.

Entrance: Lúthgháireach Padraig (Críost liom).

Psalm: Is é an Tiarna m’aoire (The Lord is my Shepherd) Psalm 23.

Offertory: Ag Críost an Síol.

Communion: Bothar na Síochána (The Road of Peace), written by Dónal Ó Liatháin, music by Peadar Ó Riada for Derry in the height of the Troubles.

Tiomna Cholm Cille (Hymn of Colmcille) written for the Saint’s 1500 anniversary in 1997.

Recessional: Mo Ghile, m’fhear

First Reading: Read by Odhran Mc Guinness, (nephew of Martin McGuinness)
A reading from the book of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

There is a season for everything,

a time for every occupation under heaven.

A time for giving birth, a time for dying;

a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted.

A time for killing, a time for healing;

a time for knocking down, a time for building.

A time for tears, a time for laughter;

a time for mourning, a time for dancing.

A time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them;

a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing.

A time for searching, a time for losing;

a time for keeping, a time for discarding.

A time for tearing, a time for sewing;

a time for keeping silent, a time for speaking.

A time for loving, a time for hating;

a time for war, a time for peace.

The word of the Lord

Psalm sung by: Psalm 23 as Gaelige Choir (see Choir note above). 

Second Reading: Read by Mr Sean Hargan (Son-in-Law of Martin McGuinness).
A reading from the second letter of Saint Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me depart.  I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish;

I have kept the faith; all there is to come for me now is the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the upright judge, will give to me on that Day; and, not only to me, but to all those who have longed for his appearing.

The word of the Lord.

Luke 24:13-35 

Homily – to be preached by Father Michael Canny

If any of you have ever visited Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, you may have seen the plaque on the wall of the crypt where the man who designed the church – the celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren – is buried.  There is an inscription on it, in Latin, which is usually translated as: “Reader, if you seek his monument – look around you.”

Well, if you seek Martin McGuinness’s monument, his legacy – look around you. Look not at the beauty of this Saint Columba’s Church, which was such an integral and important part of Martin’s life.  Look, instead, at the people gathered in this church, to say farewell to a man who was such a proud member of this community, the person who came to be a widely respected leader of this community, someone who has been acknowledged in recent days as a politician who spent year after year moving this community towards peace.

There are people in this church today whose presence would have been unthinkable only a generation ago.  They have forged working relationships with Martin McGuinness; they have built friendships with him; they have occupied Stormont’s benches alongside him.  Some have even sat in government with him.  You are all very, very welcome.  The presence of those political rivals and opponents among you, who have come to pay their respects this afternoon, is the most eloquent testimony to the memory of Martin McGuinness.  When you seek his monument, YOU – by your presence – are his monument.

Over recent days, many column inches have been written and myriads spoken about him.  His life and death have been retold in innumerable television and radio interviews.  Many of us have our own particular stories of our relationship or friendship with him.

Martin was a complex man.  He was born into a community where faith, Catholicism and Nationalism were intertwined.  He was a man of simple tastes who ascended to the political summit.  He visited the White House, Downing Street and Windsor Castle, but only ever felt at home in his beloved Bogside, returning to his wife and family at every opportunity.  He shook hands with presidents, prime ministers, Taoisigh and even royalty, but was most comfortable walking with Bernie along the backshore at Buncrana, or wandering at Inch Island or up at Grianan, or along a river bank fishing.  He ate many formal dinners but was happiest when eating cabbage and bacon, or a piece of salmon caught by his friend James Quinn.  Martin the Sinn Féin leader who first shared power, then became friends, with the late Dr Ian Paisley; Martin was the IRA commander who became a mainstay of the peace process.

In his last recorded interview on RTÉ, part of which was broadcast on Tuesday morning, Martin was asked about the judgement of history.  He wasn’t worried about what historians thought, he told Tommie Gorman; he said he would leave it to the judgement of people.  He asked only that he be judged fairly.

I have had many conversations with Martin down through the years and he knew only too well how many people struggled with his IRA past.  Republicans were not blameless, and many people right across the community find it difficult to forgive and impossible to forget.

During this past month, Lord Trimble wrote to Martin telling him that he had been indispensable in bringing about devolution after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.  Former First Minister Arlene Foster said on Tuesday that Martin’s contribution to the political and peace process had been “significant” and had “helped build the relative peace we now enjoy”, and yesterday in the assembly chamber said “I doubt that we will ever see his like again”.  In January, as the seriousness of Martin’s illness was becoming more and more obvious, Ian Paisley Jnr. thanked him, saying his “remarkable journey” had “not only saved lives but made the lives of countless people better”.

The word ‘journey’ has been used by many people in recent days to describe Martin’s transition from man of war to man of peace.  The word journey is also used frequently to describe the believer as he or she lives life on the way to union with God.

In our Gospel we heard of the disciples’ journey that began in darkness after the death of Jesus – having witnessed his crucifixion – but turned to hope when they discovered that he was not dead but alive.

By any standards, Martin McGuinness was a remarkable man and his life was a remarkable journey. The values he had, the principles he championed are still very much alive.

The first reading tells us that on that journey there is a time for different things;

‘A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.’

On that journey many years ago, Martin realised that the time for peace had come and he pursued the peace process with relentless energy for the rest of his days, until illness finally struck him down.  In the course of that journey he encountered many obstacles but he remained resolute.  In conversation he often repeated that there was no other way, we had to continually work for the building of peace and a better future for all.  Despite many setbacks he never became disheartened.

We come here to this church this afternoon because Martin was also a man of faith.  He believed in God and his faith was important to him.  Prayer was very important to him.  In Saint’s Paul’s second letter to Timothy, read in our second reading, the apostle said the time of his departure had come and he prepared to face the Lord, “the righteous judge”.  He had finished the race.  He had kept the faith.

Martin, too, has finished the race.  He, too, kept the faith.  He, too, has come face to face with the righteous judge who judges all fairly.

In a short time we will lay Martin to rest and we will all go our different ways to continue with the bits and pieces of life but Bernie, for you and the family, life has been changed.  Yes, it will continue, but it will be very different – no more waiting for the car to come across the street with the knowing that he was home safe.  A big figure has been taken from your life and the life of your family, but be assured of our prayers and continuing support over the many difficult and challenging days ahead.

So, we commend Martin to the Lord as we say:  “Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine on him.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.  Amen”

Prayer of the Faithful
Grandchildren Martin McGuinness: Prayers 1-3 Tiarnan Hargan, 4 Rossa Devine, 5 Oisin Hargan, 6 Ciana Devine.  Rev Harold Good and Rev David Latimer will also read prayers of the faithful.


  1. In Baptism, we are given the promise of eternal life; may Granda be raised up to share the life of God in heaven. (pause)… Lord hear us.
  1. For the family and friends of Granda: that they may find strength and consolation in the hope we have through Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. (pause)… Lord hear us.
  1. For medical and nursing professionals (and, in particular, those who have cared for Granda): Lord, guide their caring hearts and gentle hands. (pause)… Lord hear us.
  1. Lord our God, look on those who live without hope and do not know you; bring them to believe in the Resurrection and the life of the world to come. (pause)… Lord hear us.
  1. Oh God, Creator of life and the gifts you have given each of us, help us to use them to build respect for each other and our world. (pause)… Lord hear us.
  1. Eternal Father, bring Granda, all our deceased relatives and friends, and the faithful departed into the light of your presence. (pause)… Lord hear us.

Offertory Procession
Gift bearers: Eileen McGuinness, Caroline Friel, Katie McGuinness and Leona McGuinness.

At the conclusion of the Requiem Mass, the remains of Martin McGuinness will be taken to the City Cemetery for burial.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 in Derry and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444