Belfast Telegraph

Marian Finucane remembered as ‘generous and determined woman’ at funeral

Friends, family and former colleagues gathered at St Brigid’s Church in Kill for the service.

The funeral of Marian Finucane takes place at St Brigid’s Church in Kill, County Kildare (Niall Carson/PA)
The funeral of Marian Finucane takes place at St Brigid’s Church in Kill, County Kildare (Niall Carson/PA)

By Cate McCurry and Aine McMahon, PA

Broadcaster Marian Finucane will be remembered as a generous and determined woman whose keen sense of humour enriched the lives of many, mourners have been told.

The RTE broadcaster’s funeral took place in Co Kildare on Tuesday following her death last Thursday at the age of 69.

Friends, family and former colleagues gathered at St Brigid’s Church in Kill for the service.

Those attending included Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, as well as RTE colleagues and broadcasters Joe Duffy, Clare Byrne, Ryan Tubridy, Brendan O’Connor, Miriam O’Callaghan and RTE’s Director General Dee Forbes.

Government ministers including Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Minister for Communications Richard Bruton also attended.

Her only son Jack Clarke paid tribute to his mother.

He said: “Those of us who knew her well, knew that mam was never more than a deep and meaningful conversation, or an emotional story away from having a good old cry.

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Marian Finucane’s son Jack Clarke, centre, carries his mother’s coffin during her funeral at St Brigid’s Church in Kill Co Kildare (Niall Carson/PA)

“I want to thank the friends and family who rallied around, and given us great strength in this dark time, your organisation and your willingness to pitch in is greatly appreciated by dad and me.

“Mam would have been so proud and grateful to see all the family come together and muck in.”

Mr Clarke said that people across the length and breadth of Ireland have their own personal experience of and relationship with Finucane, and the many versions of her.

“The mother, the wife, the aunt, the sister, the step-mother, the mother-in-law, the friend, the colleague, the journalist, the radio host, the social commentator, the activist and the architect,” he added.

“Each of these versions of Marian touched us because she had a great empathy and her curiosity made all these very genuine.

“The woman I knew behind all these selves was a shy lady who was as happy reading a book in silence, as she was sitting around the dinner table in the small hours of the morning with friends, laughing, joking, singing when she could remember the words, debating the politics of the day and generally sorting out the world’s problems one dinner party at a time.”

Marian’s husband John Clarke said she was a woman he loved for 40 years, who “made colours brighter” and made “the world easier to live in”.

He added: “It has been a hard day and a terrible week but I’m glad you’re all here.”

Mr Clarke told mourners Marian had decided in the first week of December that she wanted to retire.

“I want to talk about my Marian, a woman I have loved for 40 years. A woman, who for me, always made the colours brighter and the world a bit easier to live in.”

“Last December – the first week of it – she decided to retire and we were so excited. We would have more time, more space, more books to read, more places to see. Sadly, that’s not going to happen.

“Somebody said about us, I don’t know who, we were two 15-year-old adolescents who were addicted to each other and forgot to grow up. I don’t deny that.

“I find myself so powerless at the moment, I don’t know what to do. I truly don’t know what to do,” he said – becoming emotional.

He recalled a recent trip to a township in Africa with Marian where they met a local woman who said: “The only thing I can give you are my tears.”

Fighting back tears himself, he said: “That’s all I think I can do today.”

The chief celebrant of the mass Monsignor Ciaran O’Carroll said the news of Finucane’s death was a “dreadful shock”.

“She was such an icon of Irish broadcasting and will always be remembered for her outstanding journalistic abilities, her keen intellect, warmth, wit, thoughtfulness, compassion and kindness,” he said during the service.

“The influence of Marian was significant.

Publicly the nation has lost a skilled broadcaster. Privately John has lost a soul partner, Jack a loving mother and Jenny a cherished mother-in-law Monsignor Ciaran O’Carroll

“The contribution Marian made to advancing and shaping our nation and its peoples through her professional work as a courageous broadcaster, and her determination to facilitate conversation without fear or favour, was repeatedly and wonderfully captured in countless public tributes paid over recent days.

“We have also come here this morning to offer our sympathy and express our solidarity with all the members of her family – especially her husband John, her son Jack, her daughter-in-law Jenny, her sisters, brothers, in-laws, family members, relatives, colleagues and friends.”

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The broadcaster died at the age of 69 (RTE/PA)

He added that the nation has lost a “skilled broadcaster”.

“She had great empathy and sense of fairness and treated everyone with courtesy and respect,” Monsignor O’Carroll added.

“A generous and determined woman, and a thoughtful and kind friend whose keen sense of humour enriched the lives of many, her charity work at home and abroad was simply outstanding.

“Thousands always enjoyed her programmes and she will be missed on the radio. Publicly the nation has lost a skilled broadcaster.

“Privately John has lost a soul partner, Jack a loving mother and Jenny a cherished mother-in-law.

“The great, exuberant joy shared by our family and friends but a few short months ago at Jack and Jenny’s wedding contrasts now with the sorrow and sadness we experience this day of Marian’s funeral.”

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A woman signs a book of condolence at RT Radio Centre in Donnybrook, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

He said the broadcaster was blessed with an “indomitable spirit” which she had to call on often in her full, dynamic and fruitful life.

“Blessed with energy and dynamism, determined and persistent, she had boundless curiosity about life and the world,” he continued.

“Throughout her eventful life she was privileged to experience many changes and received the grace to confront various, sometimes demanding, challenges.

“She had to carry the cross of bereavement with the death of her beloved daughter Sinead – a bereavement she bore with tremendous dignity.

“In the face of Sinead’s death, Marian mobilised all of her formidable strengths and skills by dedicating a whole chapter of her life to supporting the hospice movement at home and establish a hospice charity in South Africa.

“Through her various popular programmes Marian became a presence in thousands of homes each week, as listenership figures consistently revealed.”

PA

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