THE Neeson family has “lost a great lady,” a priest said as prayers were said at Mass at All Saints Church in Ballymena for Kitty Neeson, mother of actor Liam Neeson.
Fr Paddy McKenna was speaking at morning Mass on Tuesday ahead of joining family members and mourners gathering at the nearby Henry’s Funeral Parlour.
He said he had fulfilled a request from Mrs Neeson half a century ago to hold a Requiem Mass for her when she passed away.
Dozens of family friends and members of the public lined Broughshane Street outside Henry’s whilst social distancing due to lockdown restrictions as the cortege left for Ballymena Cemetery at Cushendall Road.
Mrs Neeson was laid to rest beside her husband Barney who died in 1988.
The earlier, morning Mass, at All Saints was concelebrated by Fr McKenna along with Monsignor Paddy Delargy and Fr Aloysius Lumala.
Fr Lumala said: “At this Mass in a special way we pray for the happy repose of the soul of Cate Neeson. We pray that Cate may be in God’s presence and we keep her family in our prayers and we offer our condolences to Elizabeth, Bernadette, Liam and Rosaleen and the entire family circle that the good Lord may comfort you in your loss.”
Fr McKenna, who had also officiated at the funeral of Mrs Neeson’s late husband Barney, said: “It’s nice to be able to celebrate this Mass with Monsignor Delargy and with Fr Aloysius and we offer it particularly for Kitty Neeson and again it is lovely to be able to have the privilege to say this Mass for her.
“She was very special in my life. She was a lady whose long life was centred around her love of God and her love of people and she graced us with her presence for 94 years, touching the lives of young and old with her zest for living, her lovely sense of humour, her goodness, her kindness and, dare I say it, her spirituality.
“All Saints Church was her spiritual home and I wonder just how many times she came here to pray for the happy repose of the souls of others, her own family, her husband Barney and her friends and relatives.
“Her spiritual home was here and her other home was Corlea Gardens where she reared her family…Elizabeth, Rosaleen, Bernadette and her big son Liam. She loved them all and today we offer our sympathies and pray for them as well.
“They have lost a great lady that they have loved so much.”
Fr McKenna added: “It’s 50 years ago since Kitty sat at our kitchen table in Broughshane Street and turned to me shortly after my ordination and said: ‘Paddy, when the time comes will you say my Requiem Mass?’ and today I am fulfilling that promise just asking God to give her a favourable judgment and to give her eternal rest because her good works go with her to God.”
Mrs Neeson, who was a great grandmother, died on Saturday at Slemish Nursing Home at Ballymena’s Broughshane Road beside her long time home at Kenvara.
Wreaths and flowers included one from Mid & East Antrim Council – Liam is a ‘Freeman’ of the Borough – and the Lyric Theatre in Belfast where Liam is patron.
Another message attached to a floral tribute simply read: ‘Precious memories from Elizabeth, Bernadette, Liam, Rosaleen & families’.
With travel issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it is understood Liam Neeson was in America but a technological link was put in place at Henry’s Funeral Parlour to enable him to hear the funeral service.