Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Westlife's Nicky Byrne in final farewell to his dad

It was his only regret from a long and happy relationship with a father he called "his hero".

For seven years, Nicky Byrne's dad had begged him to perform Elvis Costello's hit song Please Stay alongside Westlife. On Saturday at the end of an emotional ceremony at St Laurence O'Toole Church in Baldoyle, the heartbroken singer granted his father's long-held wish.

His voice shaking, Nicky sang the poignant words 'please stay, please don't go' before breaking down at the immensity of his loss.

The love he and his family felt for Nicky Senior, a man he called "a legend" and "the coolest dad in the world", was marked throughout the moving tribute.

Earlier he had painted a colourful picture of the type of person his father was. "A true gentleman, he had an amazing smile. In fact he died with a smile on his face," he told the packed congregation. "He looked so peaceful and relaxed. He was the best looking dead person I ever saw," quipped the singer.

It was a heartfelt speech. Filled with jokes and funny anecdotes; a tribute to a man who was renowned for his large bank of witticisms.

"He was the coolest dad. He could never cramp our style. Except this one time when he bought a Lada. We used to hate it but he tried so hard to change our mind," recalled Nicky.

"I remember one day he put all his power into passing a Porsche out on the motorway just to prove it was cool."

A man of simple pleasures, the Westlife star described how his father loved football, snooker, pitch 'n' putt, chicken and chips and Guinness.

But there was only one true love in his father's life -- and that was his wife Yvonne.

"He met my mam at a dancehall on a mid-summer's day in 1968 and that night he came home and told his parents he had just met the girl he was going to marry, as I did many years later when I met Georgina," explained Nicky. "They were soul mates and they made a great team."



Addressing his father-in-law, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who was present at the service, the Westlife singer also recalled how his father, who worked for the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, reacted when he got wind of the decentralisation plan.



"He rang Bertie to make sure he wouldn't be moved to Co Kerry. He then announced to the entire office that he'd been on to Bertie and it'd all be OK, they were going nowhere. Bertie was going to look after them all," he said to laughter in the pews.



Describing him as "the greatest grandfather anyone could ask for", he explained how his dad would collect spiders with Jay and Rocco, saying their playtime would cover everything from hunting down ants to making magic wands.



The funeral Mass, which was punctuated with some of the best of Ireland's musical talent, witnessed Westlife stand shoulder to shoulder on the altar to sing You Raise Me Up, while The Vard Singers performed Pie Jesu.

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