Incredible Irish send-off for 'father of all Travellers' Simon Doherty

Incredible Irish send-off for 'father of all Travellers' Simon Doherty

THE 'father of all Travellers' was laid to rest yesterday following a true Irish send-off in Britain with hundreds of mourners paying their respects. 

Simon 'Simey' Doherty, father of celebrity Irish Traveller Paddy Doherty, passed away April 6 at a hospital in Epsom following an illness.

He was remembered with a ceremony at St Michael's Catholic Church in Ashtead, Surrey, followed by a burial in St Margaret's Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, North London.

Paddy Doherty is well-known across Britain and Ireland for his part in Channel 4's My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, When Paddy met Sally and Celebrity Big Brother, which he won in 2011.

Hundreds of mourners flocked from Ireland and Britain to pay their respects to the 'King of the Dohertys' as his remains were carried through the streets of Ashtead, followed by a convoy of over a dozen Rolls Royces carrying Irish Tricolour flags.

Paddy Doherty (centre), with his brothers Qe (front) and Johnny (right) on a horse drawn hearse carrying the coffin of their father Simon Doherty along Harrow Road, en route to St Margaret's Catholic Cemetery, London, to be buried after his funeral. (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Mr Doherty Senior's coffin was also decorated with a Tricolour, and carried by a carriage and horses who also wore the Irish flag.

Floral tributes were laid at the grave including a shamrock, horseshoes, bottles of whisky, a pint of Guinness and a Rolls Royce.

Green shamrock balloons and six white doves were released into the air following his burial as mourners sang laments at his graveside.

Speaking at his funeral, Paddy Doherty said his father "lived the best and was the best".

"He was like Mafia in his own way, not in a bad way – any trouble they would go to him. He was like the godfather – what he said was law. He said I want no one crying at my funeral, I want them happy, singing and get them drunk.

"He wasn't an average man – he was outstanding, a great man," he added.

"Everything had to be five stars for him, he lived the best and was the best. My poor mother – her heart is devastated, her heart is broken.

"I'm so grateful how many people have turned out – we just want everything to go well, everything has to be tremendous and over the top," he finished.

Mr Doherty's coffin was then driven to the cemetery in a horse and carriage, and carried up a red carpet to his grave accompanied by bagpipes.

A fleet of Rolls Royce cars outside St Michael's Catholic Church in Ashtead, Surrey, where the funeral of Simon Doherty, took place. (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Speaking to The Irish Post, Irish dancer Róisín Mullins – who gave a speech about Simon Doherty and sang The Fields of Athenry at his funeral – said the celebration of his life was "amazing" and the Doherty family are "warm, loving people".

"The funeral itself was amazing, not like anything I'd ever seen," she said.

"Paddy really put together a send-off for his father that really was a celebration of his life as well as being quite a formal funeral with the Catholic Mass.

"There were lots of Irish flags, and five girls from Raven Irish Troupe performed and I, myself, gave a speech about Simon Doherty and performed The Fields of Athenry.

Irish dancers performing at St Michael's Catholic Church in Ashtead, Surrey, during the funeral of Simon Doherty. (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

"I sat down with Paddy and his sister Mary last week and they talked about what kind of man Simon was, and what really came through when I met their family was that they're very warm, welcoming, loving people and that came through when they talked about their father.

"He was a very strict man also, a very stern man, but at the same time he was good and great, and a great singer," she said.

"He was seen as a father to all children, a father to all Travellers, a father to everyone and that's why there were so many people at the funeral," Róisín added.

Speaking about the Travelling community, Róisín said: "There was a great sadness amongst the Travelling community yesterday.

"People had come a long way as well, flying in from Ireland and across Britain, and while it was a celebration of his life, it was still a funeral and still a very sombre and very sad."

Simon 'Simey' Doherty is survived by his wife, 15 children and many grandchildren.