TV star Dec mourns Desertmartin-born uncle

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TELEVISION presenter Declan Donnelly, who was said to be devastated at the loss of his Desertmartin-born father Alphonsus last week, made a trip home to Co Derry just a few weeks earlier for the funeral of his uncle Anthony.

The “I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!” presenter visited his uncle Anthony’s wife Margaret and her son and daughter at the family home on the Cullion Road along with his brother Fr Dermot Donnelly.

The two, who were born in Newcastle after their parents emigrated from Derry in the 1950s, were said to have chatted to mourners at the wake house before travelling to the funeral at St Patrick’s Church in Keenaght last month.

Anthony (77) was one of a family of seven, including Declan’s father Alphonsus - who became known as Phonsie to friends and relatives. Anthony, who had suffered from chest problems for many years following his retirement from work as a breadman in the local area, died just 10 days before his older brother Phonsie.

Declan, who became famous as a teenager in television drama Byker Grove and went on to become one half of a presenting duo with Anthony McPartlin, was said to be distraught at the death of his father with whom he had a close relationship.

Anthony’s wife Margaret paid tribute to her husband and his brother after their deaths. “Anthony was well-known in the area and there were a lot of people at the funeral,” she told the Mail, adding that he suffered from poor health in recent years.

“Dec and his brother Fr Dermot came over too and that was nice. The two families would have been close. We always kept in touch with Phonsie and his wife after they went away. It’s very sad that they died so close together.”