Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Ronnie Drew: Farewell to an Irish legend

Thousands of mourners turned out today to bid farewell to true Irish legend Ronnie Drew.

Stars of stage and screen made their way to his adopted home in Greystones, Co Wicklow, for the moving funeral Mass.



The much-loved balladeer was laid to rest beside his wife Deirdre at Redford Cemetery following the Requiem Mass atthe nearby Church of the Holy Rosary.



Ronnie died at the age of 73 on Saturday following a two-year battle with cancer.



Tributes were paid this morning to a “music maker and a dreamer of dreams ... and certainly no handshaker” by one of those who loved him most, his heartbroken daughter Cliodhna.



Speaking at the end of the service, alongside her brother Phelim, she thanked all the people who had been so supportive to them throughout the last two years given that they lost their mother Deirdre just 12 months ago.



Her brother Phelim said: “My dad enjoyed life to the full and enjoyed quality in everything. In conversation, in food, in cigars, in wine, in dress, but he didn’t have a huge amount of respect for money.



“He only thought of it as a way to make life bearable and enjoyable.”



He went on to recall a story of how family friend Tom Creed was reading a newspaper report about how Michael Flatley was earning €1 million a week for his tour.



When he turned to Ronnie and asked him what he would do with the money, he replied: “I would work for two weeks and then stop”, which prompted laughter in the church.



Phelim also paid tribute to what he described as his father’s second family, the musicians and singers and performers whom he knew all his life.



He added that musician often claimed to be Ronnie’s brothers or sisters.



“That was a testament to his relationship with people. the expressions of which have been made over the last few days.”



As Ronnie had so requested, his funeral had a party- like atmosphere and instead of mourning his passing it was a celebration of his life.



All his talented friends, including Finbarr Furey, Eleanor Shanley, Paddy Moloney from the Chieftains and Barney McKenna and John Sheahan from The Dubliners, took over an entire section of the church and recalled Ronnie’s life in the best way they knew how – with his favourite songs.



Among the songs performed were McAlpine’s Fusiliers, Amazing Grace, When I First Said I Loved Only You. There was also a particularly moving rendition of The Parting Glass by folk singer Eleanor.



His close pal and local curate Fr Denis Quinn officiated at the Mass at the request of Ronnie’s family.



And Fr Quinn had his own colourful tales to tell about the troubador.



But he recalled with sadness how Ronnie stood in the same church only a year ago and remembered his beloved Deirdre.



Fr Quinn recalled Ronnie’s words: “I was married to a lady. I don’t know how she put up with me for so long. I wouldn’t have put up with me.



“She kept me alive and she kept me in so many ways. She was a great one for helping the lame ducks and there wasn’t a lamer one than me.”



Fr Quinn continued with praise for his old friend.



“He was a great entertainer and gave enormous pleasure to so many throughout this island and the other island and everywhere else throughout the world.”



The church was so packed the adjacent community centre had to be opened so mourners could gather to watch the mass on a large screen.

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