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Send-off for broadcaster O'Herlihy

Published 29/05/2015

The widow of the late sports broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy, Hillary O'Herlihy, centre, and their daughters Sally, left, and Jill, attend his funeral mass in Dublin
The widow of the late sports broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy, Hillary O'Herlihy, centre, and their daughters Sally, left, and Jill, attend his funeral mass in Dublin

Bill O'Herlihy's "dysfunctional family" have carried him on his final journey as tears and laughter mixed at the late broadcaster's funeral.

Footballers turned pundits John Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy were pallbearers for their old pal at the church Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin .

He died suddenly at home on Monday aged 76.

The sports anchor, public relations chief and political strategist was remembered at his requiem mass for his goodness, infectious joy, generosity and integrity.

Among the mourners were President Michael D Higgins, a host of senior figures from RTE, soccer stars and Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys.

Fr Tom O'Keeffe, chief celebrant, told mourners that Bill - as he was affectionately known by sports fans - was a humble family man who brought great light and joy to many.

"It's very difficult to cope with grief and heartbreak on one's own. It's much easier when it's shared," he said.

"We are all here this morning to share the grief of the family. However, the main focus of the celebration is not grief but gratitude, not darkness but light, not sadness because he's gone but rather joy because he lived."

Fr O'Keeffe paid tribute to the close and entertaining relationships of O'Herlihy and the "three amigos" Giles, Brady and Dunphy on the RTE soccer panel - describing them as a "dysfunctional family".

He ended the mass mimicking one of Bill's sign-offs: "We'll leave it there so."

Born in Cork, Bill O'Herlihy became a journalist at 16, writing for the Cork Examiner.

The broadcasting legend's CV included 10 World Cups and 10 Olympics.

His first on air appearance for RTE was a piece commemorating the sinking of the Lusitania off the Cork coast for Newsbeat in 1965 and he later worked on 7 Days.

In 1973, he stepped into public relations and founded the O'Herlihy Communications Group which since merged with Insight Consultants.

In 1979, O'Herlihy co-presented the first Sunday Game with Jim Carney and he went on to lead soccer coverage up until his retirement.

His style was unique, combining skill, wit and good humour with the fiery and opinionated analyses of educated and straight-talking pundits.

His is survived by wife Hilary, daughters Jill and Sally, and five grandchildren.

Sally spoke at the end of the mass to pay tribute to her father and thank all those who have sent messages of condolence in the days since he died.

She said the family were heartbroken, but overwhelmed by the love shown by those closest to them and the general public.

O'Herlihy was laid to rest in Shanganagh cemetery in south Dublin after the service.

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