A deeply-loved husband and father who lost his life in a boating tragedy was bid a tearful farewell by family and friends on Thursday afternoon.
As well as pregnant widow Louise (pictured in red), an estimated 700 other mourners attended the funeral of Daryl Burke including members of An Garda Siochana, unionist and nationalist political figures, and John Trimble – the only survivor of the double-fatal fishing accident.
Helping to lead a pre-service procession through the streets of Portadown were members of the rescue squad which recovered the angler’s body from Lough Ree, Co Westmeath, after an agonising 16-day search.
Ahead of the funeral this week, widow Louise Burke had spoken about her pride in her husband, and his delight at discovering that she was pregnant - with the baby’s due-date now just weeks away.
She had said: “Daryl lived for his family. We adored him. He was so proud of us all. When we discovered on Christmas Eve that we were expecting our first daughter - the 10th of May is the date - he was absolutely over the moon”.
She told the Portadown Times it had been “such a relief to find (his body) and at last be able to bring him home.”
He had previously beaten testicular cancer around a decade ago, and she added: “It’s so ironic that, having survived cancer and a lung condition, Mother Nature should take him when he was pursuing his favourite hobby”.
The procession set off from his home in Beechgrove at about 1.15pm on its way to St Columba’s church – the same modern Anglican church in which the couple had been married, and where their three children were baptised.
The couple had been planning to reaffirm their vows on the 10th anniversary next year.
Ahead of the funeral, an ultrasound scan of his as-yet unborn daughter was attached to Daryl’s lapel.
A search had begun for Daryl, 60-year-old John Trimble and 27-year-old David Warnock after they set out on a trip into Lough Ree on March 20.
They encountered serious difficulties as the weather deteriorated, and ended up in the water. Ultimately only Mr Trimble lived.
Mr Warnock was buried on March 24, and Daryl’s body was returned to Co Armagh on Sunday, after having been discovered the previous day.
A police vehicle led yesterday’s procession to the church, followed by a 4x4 from the Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Recovery, six of whose members came up from the Republic.
En route the cortege paused outside the home of Daryl’s father Aubrey and also as it passed Watson Street, where the 30-year-old landscaper had helped to build the Twelfth bonfire last July.
When it reached the bridge over the River Bann, the procession halted and a minute’s silence was observed.
At the 2pm service itself, the church was full to its estimated capacity of 450, even with the extra chairs provided.
Up to another 150 had to remain outside in the drizzling rain.
Canon Bill Adair took the service, and told those assembled: “Daryl also loved fishing since he was a boy. A member of Portadown Pikers he loved to be in the company of fellow anglers as they shared and competed to get the best catch. I suppose every trip was the one to deliver the catch of a lifetime”.
He said the former BB member believed in a variant of the old Chinese Proverb: ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and he is away for the weekend’.
He added: “We bring our thanksgivings today for Daryl. We also gather here to find comfort, because the days ahead will not be easy, yet so many I know will offer help and friendship, kindness and support as human beings do when tragedy touches lives.
“But our chief source of comfort is the God who made us, formed us in the womb and walks with us through life, into his arms we are born and into his arms we die.”
Robbie Farrell, one of the search team from Boyne Rescue who found Mr Burke, said they were “very proud” to help lead the procession.
Asked why they came, the 53-year-old from Drogheda said: “We were invited up by the family; and ever if we weren’t I think we would’ve gone up anyway just to pay our respects.”
Colleague Michael Hodgins added: “It was good to get the body back to the family,” adding that hopefully it will give them “closure”.
Ian Milne, 52, the owner of Milne Funeral Services which had organised the day, knew Daryl and had employed him in the weeks leading up to his death.
He said: “It was huge. The community of the entire area came out. It was a sombre mood, but it also was a celebration of the life of a genuinely good, decent man who was family-orientated and had so many friends it was just unbelievable.”
He added: “I was humbled that the Boyne Rescue team took time, because they’re a volunteer organisation, to come to the funeral. I just couldn’t believe they’d come up,” noting that the family too were moved by the gesture.
After the service he was buried in Kernan Cemetary.