Crowds to gather for Carson funeral

Stars of screen and stage are set to pay their final farewells to Frank Carson

Stars of screen and stage are set to pay their final farewells to Frank Carson

First published in National News © by

Family and friends of Frank Carson will gather later to pay final farewells at his funeral mass.

Streets will come to a standstill around St Patrick's Catholic Church in Belfast, a short distance from the inner-city area where he was brought up.

Carson, 85, died in his adopted home of Blackpool last week after a battle with stomach cancer. He was famed for his catchphrases "It's a cracker" and "It's the way I tell 'em", which won him a massive television following, and he toured the UK and further afield with his stand-up routines.

Stars of screen and stage are set to attend his requiem mass at the chapel where he married his wife Ruth more than 60 years ago.

The principal celebrant will be retired bishop of Derry Edward Daly. He met the late comedian in 1962 when, arranging entertainment for the church in Londonderry's St Columb's hall, he booked him as resident comedian and they became close friends.

The Anglican Dean of St Anne's Cathedral, the Rev John Mann, will accompany the funeral cortege in the procession from St Patrick's to nearby St Anne's where he will lead a tribute and prayer for Mr Carson, who was noted for his cross-community work and whose comedy appealed to Catholic and Protestant alike.

The cortege will then travel through Belfast to Milltown Cemetery on the Falls Road. A relative is expected to deliver a eulogy at the graveside.

The comic's coffin has been on display in Belfast and Blackpool, and fans have been leaving floral tributes on Blackpool's Comedy Carpet. One of Carson's catchphrases - "It's the way I tell 'em" - is immortalised in the visitor attraction on the Lancashire resort's parade.

Carson was born to a family of Italian descent; his grandmother was Sicilian, and lived in Belfast's Little Italy district. The former plasterer served in the Parachute Regiment but it was comedy that remained his chief love.

Appearances on shows like Opportunity Knocks and The Comedians catapulted him to fame and he became a regular on children's series Tiswas, finding himself in demand across Britain and further afield.

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