The town centre of Enniskillen came to standstill on Monday as the remains of police officer John McConnell made its way to St. MacCartin’s Cathedral.

A lone piper accompanied the coffin from the Townhall to the Cathedral as John was given full police honours as the funeral cortege made its way through the centre of the town.

Mourners and members of the public stood in solemn dignity as police officers formed a Guard of Honour and carried John’s remains to the Cathedral which were draped in the flag of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Inside the Cathedral, John’s wife, Shirley and his two children, daughter Alex (24) and son James (20) along with a huge gathering of friends and family, including Chief Constable George Hamilton, had come to say their last farewell to man who was much loved by all who knew him.

John passed away suddenly at his home outside Enniskillen on Friday, February 22 .

A keen fisherman and a fervent supporter of Liverpool Football Club, the 53 year old was wearing the jersey of his beloved club underneath his police uniform.

Speaking about the her husband’s funeral in full police honours, Shirley said John would have just loved it.

“We were just so pleased. He would have loved it. It was beyond our expectations. It was exceptional and the respect everyone in Enniskillen showed, we were surprised at that,” said Shirley.

“There was a massive massive turnout and it was quite comforting to see people you haven’t seen in years,” added daughter Alex, who was in Australia when her father died.

“Thanks to help from a travel agent friend, she was able to get the next flight home, arriving back at the home on Saturday.

As they still come to terms with the loss of their husband and father, Shirley, Alex and James spoke lovingly of a man who they say may have had a hard exterior, but underneath it all was gentle, caring man.

“He had a stern exterior but was a big softie underneath,” said Alex.

“He was a very kind and generous man. He always has been.”

“He was always a dependable bloke and we will miss him.

“Alex was just saying they had a very privileged childhood because whatever they wanted done, he always did it. He scolded about it but he always did it,” added Shirley.

“He was always someone you could rely on.

“He would never have let you put your hand in your pocket.

“He would never have seen me stuck for anything.” said James.

A proud policeman, who loved his job, Alex and James recall how their father had no plans on retiring from the Police Service, a job he started when he was 23 years of age.

“He loved his job. He did his 30 years of service and was due to retire but he didn’t want to,” explained Alex before James continued: “I was saying to him last week, are you going to retire soon?

“And he looked at me and said why would I retire.”

As John’s family still try and absorb his untimely passing, they take comfort in the great support from friends and family to help them through this difficult time.

“We have been running on autopilot, trying to absorb it. Definitely in the next few days it will sink in,” said Alex.

“We have had great support from John’s friends and family,” she said.