MOURNERS lined the streets of Omagh on Sunday afternoon to pay their respects to a much-loved father-of-three who was “taken far too early”.
Leo McCaffrey, late of Centenary Park, died on Wednesday, July 8 at the age of just 55-years-old.
Mr McCaffrey, who had only retired from his civil service job at the start of June, was widely known in local sporting circles, having turned out in his younger days for Omagh St Enda’s and Kevlin United football club.
He was later to move into coaching and management.
The lifelong Leeds United supporter is survived by his wife of 32 years, Roslyn, his children, Ciaran, Niall and Corena, and grandchildren, Tiernan, Mollie and Conan.
On Sunday, the day of his funeral, his son Ciaran posted up a poignant tribute on social media in memory of “Leo the Legend”.
He wrote, “Taken far too early, but what a life he lived. In these circumstances it’s always better to swap tears with laughter. And with the stories that have already been shared, that was easy.
“My dad would want you all to celebrate his life, and not mourn his death.”
Further tributes have been posted up by sports club and businesses from across the Omagh area.
With his funeral service restricted to family members only due to Covid-19, mourners lined the route on Sunday as the cortege left his home and headed for Sacred Heart Church.
At the front of the chapel, his family placed a photograph of Mr McCaffrey alongside a book and a football, all symbols that were part of his story.
To a round of applause, son Niall, supported by Ciaran, read out a poem he had written in memory of their father.
Fr Damien Breslin told the mourners it was “hard to take in” that Leo had died at such a young age.
He said, “It’s not about the number of years in our life that counts, but the life in our years. We have gathered to celebrate that life.”
The priest said that family was always most important to him.
He said, “Leo McCaffrey was a sincere and genuine person… no pretence, no facade. No matter what, or whose, company he was in, Leo didn’t change his personality. You could say Leo lived his life his way. I always found Leo to be the same no matter where we met.”
Fr Breslin said that the father-of-three had also made a “positive difference” through his love and participation in football, whether it was with Omagh St Enda’s or Kevlin United.
After working for the civil service for more than 30 years, the priest said it was sad that when Mr McCaffrey retired on June 1 this year he was to spend all of his retirement in hospital.
He added, “Some of you might say Leo McCaffrey was a real character. Some of you might say he was a rogue, a good rogue, a loving rogue. I know in the family he was known as the legend.”