Funeral held for Irish real estate mogul Patrick Rocca
Published 22/01/2009 | 12:35
Dwelling on the circumstances of Patrick Rocca's tragic death or his material wealth would bring dishonour to his memory and family, a priest told mourners at his requiem Mass yesterday.
And in any case, his sister former Miss Ireland Michelle Rocca said, he was not gone.
"I saw a bird this morning, its wings long and elegant and it flew out towards the Irish Sea.
"It was Patrick," added Van Morrison's partner. She had told her brother's two boys that their dad had simply gone to another place, "in their hearts".
Yesterday was not a day for indulging the maelstrom of rumour and wild conjecture, some of it so hurtful it was almost forgotten a man had died and a family had been left heartbroken.
It was a day, said parish priest Fr John Daly, to remember Patrick Rocca's qualities and values and the many good deeds he had done in his lifetime.
Sure the wealthy property developer played tennis with Alan Sugar, offered his helicopter for Bill Clinton's use and holidayed in Marbella, but mourners heard the 42-year-old was most at home in his community.
There was his lifetime love of the Scouting movement, the helping hand he gave to his beloved Castleknock Celtic, and donations he gave without fanfare.
Fr Daly told how the mother of a boy who played soccer with Castleknock Celtic said: "Patrick did so much for us and we did nothing for him."
"We all know rich and poor people who are mean," said Fr Daly. "Patrick was not one of them," he added.
From just after 10am, mourners began to assemble for the service which began before 11.30am. The emblematic trappings of the Celtic Tiger jet-set abounded: black fur coats, designer sunglasses, designer handbags and the luxury cars and 4x4s parked at the church, a mile from the Roccas' home.
By 11am it was standing room only inside St Mochta's on the Porterstown Road between Castleknock and Clonsilla. Mr Rocca's remains arrived in a Bentley hearse just before 11.30am, the casket borne past an honour guard of boys from Castleknock College.
Following closely behind her husband's coffin was Annette Rocca (42), her face etched with pain as she tightly held her two young sons Stuart and Patrick Junior, who attends Castleknock College.
Mr Rocca's parents Paddy (72) and Maureen walked behind them with their other children Bernard, Paula, Michelle, Laura and Lisa.
Mourners inside included solicitor Gerald Kean, former models Glenda Gilson and Yvonne Keating, former runner Eamon Coghlan, Irish soccer goalkeeper Shay Given and his wife Jane, broadcaster Ian Dempsey and Bertie Ahern's ex-wife Miriam.
The narrow aisles, bedecked with generous bouquets of fresh tulips, were filled as 'Amazing Grace' was sung by former Eurovision winner Paul Harrington from the church's choir gallery.
Fr Daly, celebrating the requiem with six other priests including two from Castleknock College, said Mr Rocca was "a man of vision" and a man of great charity whose legacy was his good deeds. Once, when he had heard of a foreign child who was ill in Ireland and whose parents were trying find work, Mr Rocca used his contacts to secure the best treatment for the child.
Children, too, were at the centre of yesterday's service and some mourners wept as Mr Rocca's sons Patrick (15) and Stuart (10) brought up the offertory gifts.
Later Mr Rocca's goddaughter Sophia (8) read a prayer of the faithful, beginning it with "Dear Godfather, You're the best Godfather in the world" while the poem 'Footprints' by Mary Stevenson was also read.
The Elton John song 'Candle in the Wind' was sung by Paul Harrington and as Communion ended TV presenter Brian Ormond sang another hit by the singer called 'The One'.
Finally, it was left to Michelle Rocca to remind people of her "beautiful, kind" brother and his talents and gifts. "We love you Patrick," she said as he was taken to his final resting place in Glasnevin.