The pregnant wife of a man killed in Thursday's plane crash at Cork Airport clutched her young daughters’ hands today as she walked behind his coffin.
Brendan McAleese, 39, a Co Tyrone businessman, was one of six to die in the accident after his Manx2 flight from Belfast crashed in thick fog.
Grieving wife Anne Marie held the hands of Ava, five, and Erin, three, as they walked poignantly behind the cortege.
President Mary McAleese was among other mourners for her husband’s cousin at St MacNissius church in Tannaghmore, Antrim. The 1,000-strong crowd included crash survivors Donal Walsh, from Waterford, and Laurence Wilson, from Larne, Co Antrim.
Canon Malachy Murphy said Mr McAleese was the heart and soul of any gathering and adored his family.
“Brendan was first and foremost a family man. He adored Anne Marie, Ava and Erin,” he said.
“All his energies were geared to providing for them. He had a warm personality, honest and generous. He looked out for others. There wasn’t a selfish bone in his body.
“Brendan was very successful in his business because he worked extremely hard.”
Requiem Mass for Pat Cullinan, 45, a partner in leading accountancy firm KPMG in Belfast, also took place today at St Patrick’s Church in the Co Tyrone village of Cranagh.
During his funeral Mr Cullinan was described as an extraordinary, kind and charitable gentleman.
Sympathy was extended to all the other victims’ families.
The other four victims were Spanish pilot Jordi Gola Lopez, 31; co-pilot Andrew Cantle, 27, from York; 49-year-old businessman Richard Noble, who was originally from Derbyshire but lived in the North, and Captain Michael Evans, 51, deputy harbour master in Belfast. Six other passengers sustained injuries.
Mr McAleese was managing director of Central Laundries in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
Canon Murphy added: “Brendan was very popular. He was the heart and soul of any gathering he was in.
“Where Brendan was, there was plenty of fun and banter. With that mischievous smile he had the ability to make people laugh. He was a great man to be around. Many will miss him.”
He was on his way to a business meeting when the tragedy occurred.
Among other mourners at his funeral were the North's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Rescue crews who pulled survivors from the ill-fated Manx2 commuter flight, which crashed on its third attempt to land in thick fog at the airport, were given an emotional standing ovation during a memorial service for the victims yesterday.
Hundreds of people who gathered at the Church of the Assumption in Ballyphehane, near the airport, to offer prayers for those killed and injured in Thursday’s tragedy paid spontaneous tribute to the emergency services who helped save six passengers.