HUNDREDS of mourners attended the funeral on Monday of Cookstown businessman, Mr Brendan McAleese who was killed in a plane crash in Cork.
Mr McAleese, from near Kells, was managing director of local firm Central Laundries and had been on his way to a business meeting when the tragedy happened last Thursday morning.
His cortege to the small St MacNissus’ Church, Tamnaghmore in Co Antrim was led by his pregnant wife Anne Marie and his little daughters Ava and Erin.
Described as a family man with a warm personality, the mourners included his cousin Martin, husband of Irish President Mary McAleese.
The 39-year-old was one of six people to die on the Manx2 small passenger plane which crashed on its third attempt to land at a foggy Cork airport.
The small church was packed and a large marquee erected to cater for the overflow of mourners.
Six people survived last Thursday’s tragedy and two of those attended Mr McAleese’s funeral - Donal Walsh (22) from Co Waterford and 21-year-old Lawrence Wilson from Larne, Co Antrim. The other four survivors are still in hospital.
Parish Priest Fr Malachy Murphy told mourners their presence was a great support to his wife and family.
“Brendan was first and foremost a family man. He adored Anne Marie, Ava and Erin. All his energies were geared to providing for them,” said Fr Murphy.
“He had a warm personality, honest and generous. He looked out for others. There wasn’t a selfish bone in his body.
“Brendan had been very successful in his business because he worked extremely hard,” he told mourners.
“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,” said Fr Murphy.
The son of Mary and the late Danny McAleese, Brendan is survived by his wife and daughters, his sister Denise and brother Joseph.
Also on Monday, mourners gathered for the funeral of Pat Cullinan who also perished in the Cork air crash.
Mr Cullinan, whose brother Seamus lives in the Draperstown area, had also been on the flight for business reasons. He was a partner in accountancy firm KPMG in Belfast.
The 45-year-old was described as an ‘extraordinary, kind and charitable gentleman’.
At his funeral in St Patrick’s Church in Cranagh outside Plumbridge, Fr Joseph O’Conor told mourners the plane crash was ‘a dreadful accident which has left six families bereft of their loved ones’.
Fr O’Conor said Mr Cullinan’s family were ‘shattered’ after his death.