Northern Ireland

Gerry Anderson: Funeral of broadcaster who 'could rename a city'

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Media captionMourners at the funeral of broadcaster Gerry Anderson hear that he was "a man who knew who he was" and "a man who could rename a city". Teresa Craig reports

Mourners at the funeral of broadcaster Gerry Anderson have heard that he was "a man who knew who he was" and "a man who could rename a city".

Requiem Mass for the radio presenter was held at St Eugene's Cathedral, in his home of Derry/Londonderry - the place he renamed "stroke city".

The Derry native started his 30-year career in the city, working as a radio presenter at Radio Foyle in 1984.

He went on to become a household name in Northern Ireland.

He died earlier this week aged 69, after a long illness.

Father Paul Farren told up to 1,000 mourners in St Eugene's Cathedral on Sunday that Gerry Anderson had the gift of joy.

"We gather to pray for Gerry - a man who knew who he was," he said.

"We gather to give thanks to God for Gerry's life and for all the gifts and joy and entertainment that so many people received through Gerry, especially those into whose lives he brought light and joy when light could be dim and joy hard to find."

Fr Farren said he was "a man full of life" and "a man who died too soon".

He talked about Anderson's tongue-in-cheek name for his city. It is often referred to as Derry/Londonderry, so Gerry Anderson wryly called it "stroke city".

Fr Farren said Anderson's family said he was "a simple man who enjoyed simple things".

He was also a man with a unique talent, boundless generosity and who was "true to himself", he said.

Among those who attended the funeral were the former Foyle MP and former SDLP leader John Hume, television presenters Eamonn Holmes, Gerry Kelly and Colin Murray, Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt and his wife, Lynda Bryans. Musician and songwriter Phil Coulter was also present.

The church was packed with family and friends.

Eamonn Holmes said Gerry Anderson "broke the mould" for broadcasting.

"We have lost one of the big beasts of Irish broadcasting," he said.

"He was a character. He was mischievous. He was someone who kept listeners and viewers on the edge. You didn't know what would come next. He was certainly different."

In a poignant moment, Gerry Anderson's co-presenter, Sean Coyle, helped carry his coffin from the cathedral.

Prominent figures from Northern Ireland and the world of broadcasting have paid tribute to Mr Anderson.

BBC director general Tony Hall said he was a "distinctive and iconic voice".

Image caption Mourners at the funeral of Gerry Anderson

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence, Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said Gerry Anderson was "somebody who tried to make sense of the madness of life and the beauty of life".

"He had great experience and great wisdom," he said. "He was always pushing out the boundaries."

Gerry Anderson was named as the Best Regional Presenter at the Royal Television Society journalism awards in 2004.

The following year, he received the ultimate accolade for his services to broadcasting when he was inducted into the UK Radio Hall of Fame.

His daily programme on BBC Radio Ulster attracted dedicated fans, but almost two years ago, he stopped broadcasting because of illness.