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Funeral takes place in Dublin of Irish emigrant who died alone in London

The funeral of Joseph Tuohy took place in Dublin this morning.

Joseph Tuohy (R) with Brian Boylan (L)
Joseph Tuohy (R) with Brian Boylan (L)

Updated Sep 27th 2019, 12:15 PM

LARGE CROWDS GATHERED to attend the funeral today in Dublin of an elderly Irish man who died alone in London.

The story of 87-year-old Joseph Tuohy, who was originally from Toomevara in Tipperary, attracted significant attention after he died this summer.

The funeral took place in St Joseph’s Church in Glasthule, Dublin. His ashes will shortly be taken to Tipperary and laid to rest. 

The Mass, which was said by Fr Denis Kennedy, celebrated the life of Joseph, who died in a nursing home in Islington, north London. 

Margaret Brown, a volunteer at St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre which raises money for the Friends of the Forgotten Irish Emigrants every St Patrick’s Day, organised today’s service. 

“We have to have people there for him,” she told TheJournal.ie. 

“This is a first. There’s never been something like this before,” she said. 

Earlier this month, a call went out asking for people to attend Joseph’s funeral. 

Brown said that a lot of work had gone into the Mass, at which speakers talked about the ‘forgotten’ Irish in London. 

Brown said that she had been hoping for a “full house” at the funeral today. 

People from the Nenagh area of Tipperary, near to where Joseph was originally from, had been asked to attend today’s service. 

Brian Boylan, who runs the St Gabriel’s Homeless Hostel in London and was made Joseph’s next of kin by Islington Council when the elderly man passed away, spoke at the service. 

It was Boylan who contacted Brown to ask her to help arrange a proper funeral for Joseph. 

“This man is symbolic of a hidden suffering and we should never forget our people. We come from a great people who are loyal to one another. They deserve our respect,” Boylan told TheJournal.ie earlier this month. 

“I know that Joe would take solace from the fact that his life story, which was full of pain, may help others on their own and encourage them to seek help.”

He said that Joseph had been taken from his mother at a young age and between 14 and 16 he trained as a tailor in St Joseph’s Industrial School in Clonmel. 

After leaving the school he worked as a tailor in Waterford before leaving for London, where he experienced spells of illness and homelessness. 

He never returned to Ireland. 

“Before he died, he told me he wanted his ashes to be put in a black bin bag and buried in a garden,” Boylan said.

“But we couldn’t let that happen. Following his death there were no prayers, there was no holy water sprinkled over him nor were there any Mass cards.”

Former senator Tom Berkery, who is from the Nenagh area, told TheJournal.ie that while Joseph had no living relatives in the parish, people wanted to go and pay their respects. 

“People feel that he deserves to receive a send-off,” he said. 

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