Respecting and reflecting on a life cut cruelly short

The late Private Mark Connolly, of Methil (photo by Paul Reid/Angus Pictures)
The late Private Mark Connolly, of Methil (photo by Paul Reid/Angus Pictures)

Tragic Methil soldier Private Mark Connolly will finally be laid to rest this weekend – more than three years after being killed by a freak punch in a bar brawl.

The former Black Watch serviceman’s funeral is taking place on Friday in Forfar, in accordance with a court ruling in favour of his widow, Stacy Connolly.

However, a memorial service is being held on Saturday at Wellesley Parish Church in Methil, to allow local family members and friends to remember the 24-year-old soldier – and to grieve for him.

Since his death in Germany on May 14, 2011, Mark’s funeral has been held up by a long and bitter legal battle between his mother, Linda McComiskie, and Mrs Connolly over his final resting place.

Ms McComiskie had insisted her son wanted to be buried in the family plot at East Wemyss.

His widow claimed it was his wish to be buried beside her, and she would be laid to rest in Forfar when she passed away.

After numerous court hearings and counter-claims, a Forfar sheriff ruled in June last year that Stacy had won the right to go ahead with the burial in the Angus town.

Ms McComiskie mounted a further challenge to that decision, but withdrew it last month after learning the Legal Aid board would not fund it.

Mark’s funeral will take place at noon this Friday, January 9, at the British Legion in Forfar, followed by internment at a cemetery in the town with full military honours.

The former Buckhaven High School pupil had been severely injured on a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009 in an explosion which killed a comrade.

Two years later, he died after a single punch from another serviceman, Paul McKay, after violence flared in a bar on a German camp.

Pte McKay was later cleared of manslaughter after a court martial ruled he had acted in self-defence.