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Brian Lenihan funeral hears of “great young man cut off in prime of life”

Mourners in west Dublin hear of “cruel irony” that Lenihan became one of first home care patients of Blanchardstown hospice he helped get built.

The coffin bearing the remains of Brian Lenihan is carried away from St Mochta's Church in Porterstown, Dublin this morning following his funeral Mass
The coffin bearing the remains of Brian Lenihan is carried away from St Mochta's Church in Porterstown, Dublin this morning following his funeral Mass
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Updated 15.05

THE FUNERAL OF former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has heard that he regularly came to pray quietly on a Sunday night in the church where the service was held.

Parish priest at St Mochta’s Church, Porterstown in Dublin, Fr Eugene Kennedy, said that Lenihan had been a religious man. The homily focused on the dedication of Lenihan to his local community and to his personal character. Fr Kennedy said that tribute had already been amply paid to  “the talent, the gifts, the personality of Brian” on a national stage by dignitaries such as President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Enda Kenny in recent days.

The priest said that Lenihan had been heavily involved in community projects in his west Dublin constituency. “He never looked for an inch of media space or an ounce of public credit,” said Fr Kennedy. He added:

The new Blanchardstown hospice will remain a monument to his work and what a cruel irony that he should  be one of its first home care patients.

The congregation at St Mochta’s included former taoisigh and Fianna Fail party colleagues Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern as well as Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, President Mary McAleese and the current Government Cabinet, which arrived straight from an early session at Dail Eireann this morning. Dail proceedings have been adjourned until 10.30am tomorrow and the tricolour is flying at half mast over Leinster House to mark Lenihan’s funeral.

Brian Lenihan, described by Fr Kennedy as “a great young man cut off in the prime of life”, died last Friday at the age of 52. He had been battling pancreatic cancer since last year.

Several hundred members of the public stood quietly outside St Mochta’s this morning to listen into the funeral service over a public address system. The crowd broke into applause when Lenihan’s wife and children arrived by car to the church just before 11am. During his homily, Fr Kennedy addressed the family directly:

Ten days before he died, he said he wasn’t worried about dying, his only worry was for Patricia, Claire and Tom, the pain and distress it would cause you.

Despite the intimate nature of the service, the readings chosen for the Mass appeared to refer to the turbulent political and economic climate in which Lenihan worked before Fianna Fail were put out of power in February’s general election. The first reading, from the Book of Sirach, advised: “Do not be hasty in the time of calamity.” It also read: “Gold is tested in the fire and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation”.

A reading from a Letter of St Paul to Timothy said: “You must stay steady; put up with suffering.”

The eulogy was given by former Attorney General Paul Gallagher. He called Brian Lenihan “a master of all the talents” and “a great patriot”.

Brian Lenihan funeral hears of “great young man cut off in prime of life”
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  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Patricia Ryan, widow of Brian Lenihan, arrives for his funeral Mass today. (Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    The coffin of former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is carried from St Mochta's Church in Porterstown, Dublin. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's mother Ann is supported by son Conor as they arrive at St Mochta's Church in Porterstown, Dublin to attend his funeral. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Senator David Norris (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan 's funeral

    Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Floral tributes are brought into St Mochta's Church in Porterstown, Dublin for the funeral of former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    The children of the late Brian Lenihan arrive at his funeral Mass this morning. (Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    Former TD Noel Treacy (centre) joins other mourners outside St Mochta's Church in Porterstown. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
  • Brian Lenihan's funeral

    The crowd applauds Tom, son of Brian Lenihan, as he leads his father's funeral cortege out of St Mochta's (Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)

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Michael Freeman

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