Republic mourns a president
Published 17/04/2008 | 07:22
Former Irish President Patrick Hillery was yesterday described as a " pioneering artisan" in building a modern Ireland at his State funeral in Dublin.
The sixth President of Ireland was laid to rest with full military honours in St Fintan's Cemetery in Sutton yesterday afternoon after Requiem Mass in the Pro-Cathedral.
With flags on all Government buildings flying at half-mast until after the funeral, hundreds of people lined the streets of Dublin city centre as the funeral cortege made its journey to Sutton where Taoiseach-designate Brian Cowen delivered the graveside oration.
Mr Cowen said Dr Hillery's political achievements were "more impressive given the humility with which they were realised".
"As a people we are not given to celebrate the exceptional in our midst. At least not until he or she whom we wish to laud has passed to their eternal reward," he said.
"Paddy Hillery was one such exceptional figure in Irish life. He sculpted his political career quietly but no less effectively for that. Each impression that he carved was rooted in meeting in full, his obligations to all his fellow citizens."
Chief mourners were Dr Hillery's widow Maeve, son Dr John Hillery and his wife Carolyn, their children Sarah-Jane, Patrick, Michael and David, and his nephew Dr Brian Hillery. His other nephew, Fr Des Hillery, gave the homily at the midday mass.
Fr Hillery told the packed congregation that his uncle was devoted to his family, particularly his wife Maeve, with whom he shared over 50 years of marriage.
Fr Hillery also remembered his daughter, Vivienne, who died before the age of 18 and who Dr Hillery was buried alongside yesterday.
Referencing the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Fr Hillery said: " There's no place for the sceptics; there's no place for the weary; there's no place for the sad of heart. Life is ceaseless discovery. Life is movement. "
At the conclusion of the funeral mass, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said Dr Hillery had been a "pioneering artisan of the fabric of a modern Ireland."
Describing him as a "man of wisdom and human warmth," he said that Dr Hillery was also a "man of integrity and a believing Christian".
Both President Mary Mc Aleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern read at the funeral mass which was attended by Ministers, TDs, Senators, Opposition leaders, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps, friends and relatives of the Hillery family.
Also in attendance were Dublin City Lord Mayor Cllr Paddy Bourke, Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, former Taoisigh Albert Reynolds and Garret FitzGerald, former SDLP leader John Hume and former PD leader Des O'Malley.
Following the Requiem Mass, the funeral cortege escorted by a marching military company and band, proceeded through the city centre.
It was later replaced by a military motorcycle escort of honour.