Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

'Irish legend' Earley remembered

Former Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Dermot Earley's wife Mary reacts at his grave side in Newbridge Cemetery after Funeral Mass at St Conleth's Church

Former Defence Forces chief of staff Dermot Earley was a mighty Irish legend who was loved and revered around the country, his funeral Mass has heard.

Political, religious and sporting leaders packed into the Church of St Conleth, in Newbridge, Co Kildare, to pay their final respects to the soldier and sportsman who died on Wednesday.

Loudspeakers were erected outside to bring the service to more than 1,000 mourners who thronged into the church grounds and lined the adjoining streets for the moving military send-off.

Leading the ceremony, Monsignor Eoin Thynne, Head Chaplain of the Forces, said tears of sorrow had been cried for the loss of a great leader, an outstanding sportsman and a true gentleman.

"Dermot Earley was a good man, in fact he was a great man, but to the people of Roscommon he was a mighty man," he said.

"Mighty to his family, his friends, the Defence Forces, the Gaelic Athletic Association, mighty to everyone."

Tributes were paid to Lt Gen Earley's distinguished military career, leading UN missions in the Middle East and New York, as well as success on the GAA pitch for his native Roscommon.

He was also remembered as a committed family man.

Lt Gen Sean McCann, the current Defence Forces chief of staff, described his predecessor as an indomitable force that galvanised Irish troops into believing anything was possible.

Along with countless others, Lt Gen McCann recalled his former colleague's warm "vice-like handshake" and engaging eye-contact that endeared him to friends and strangers alike. The outstanding Gaelic footballer of his generation - having won almost every accolade in the game - he was also an accomplished rugby player, the Mass heard.

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