Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to the head of a Sheffield travelling family with nearly 170 grandchildren.
Paddy Cawley’s traveller roots were celebrated at his funeral – with relatives arranging for a hand-painted horse drawn traditional gypsy cart to transport floral tributes to his final resting place in Shiregreen Cemetery.
The cart had pride of place outside St Theresa Roman Catholic Church, off Prince of Wales Road, Manor, where crowds gathered to pay their respects to the family patriarch this morning at his funeral service.
Travellers from across the country descended on the to the city to say their final farewells to Paddy, who leaves 63 grandchildren, 100 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
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Paddy, aged 88, was born in Sligo, Ireland – one of 11 children – and had 10 children of his own with wife Moya, who died three years ago. He moved to Scotland in the 1940s and travelled South to work his way around England on the road, before settling in Sheffield in the 1970s.
Paddy and Moya swapped their van for bricks and mortar in 1978 when they moved into the Park Hill flats complex in the city, but daughter Kathleen Collins, aged 42, said her father remained true to his roots.
She said: “He struggled at first to leave the caravan because he was happiest in the outdoors and he never forgot his roots.”
Wearing a T-shirt bearing a photograph of her dad and the words ‘RIP Paddy’, Kathleen said the traditional cart was a tribute to his heritage.
It was decorated with photographs of Paddy surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
A vintage Morris Minor camper van was also decorated with photographs of Paddy, in a reference to the Morris Minor D40 he used to drive.
Mourners who parked vans outside the church had Irish flags draped over them.
Songs by Elvis Presley were played as mourners arrived, before Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ was played just before the funeral service started.
Kathleen said: “The traditional carts were used years ago to look for work. They were part of his past, so we felt it a nice gesture.”
She said Paddy, of Nidd Road, Darnall, lost his zest for life following the death of Moya three years ago, aged 86, while the death of their daughter Nan Evans, in March, aged 63, also took its toll.
Paddy also outlived his children Marty, Miss and Anthony. He is survived by his children Paddy junior, Jimmy, Willy, Tommy and Bridget, as well as Kathleen.
They stopped at his local pub, The Terminus in Darnall, to toast his life, en-route to Shiregreen cemetery.
Kathleen said: “He was so well known and because he was the last surviving one of his brother and sisters, and there were 11 of them, lots of people wanted to come and say goodbye.”