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funeral mass

Marian Finucane's son and husband pay tribute to her 'great empathy and curiosity'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, two ministers, and a number of high-profile RTÉ broadcasters were among those who attended the funeral.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Jan 2020

marian-finucane-funeral Niall Carson Niall Carson

THE SON AND husband of “an icon of Irish broadcasting” Marian Finucane have paid tribute to her “great empathy and curiosity” at her funeral in Kill, Co Kildare.

The 69-year-old, who presented the Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturdays and Sunday, died suddenly last Thursday. 

Friends, family and former colleagues gathered at St Brigid’s Church in Kill for her funeral mass at 12 noon.

Among those in attendance are Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Communications Richard Bruton, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone.

RTÉ broadcasters Joe Duffy, Claire Byrne, Miriam O’Callaghan and Ryan Tubridy were among the colleagues who were in attendance. Actress Fionnula Flanagan was also among the mourners.

Jack Clarke RTÉ News Now RTÉ News Now

In his eulogy, Marian’s son Jack Clarke thanked the family and friends who gathered around “during this dark time”, including the chief celebrant Ciarán O’Carroll.

He then paid tribute to his mother, who had “great empathy and curiosity”, and of whom there were many versions:

The mother, the wife, the sister, the aunt, the friend, the colleague, the journalist, the radio host, the social commentator, the activist, and the architect.

He said that “the woman I knew 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 said that someone had told them that the two of them were like “fifteen-year-old adolescents who forgot to grow up”, and said that they had been “addicted” to each other.

He said that while the two of them had been on a trip to Africa, a woman had said that she had nothing to offer but tears. “That is all I think I can do today,” he said.

marian-finucane-funeral Marian Finucane's son Jack with his wife Jenny. PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Jack said that they were given great freedom by their mother, and were taught that respect needed to be deserved.

The chief celebrant of the mass Monsignor Ciarán O’Carroll, who is a cousin of Marian’s, said during the homily that Marian’s death “came as 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 that Marian’s influence was “significant”. 

Ciaran O'C Chief celebrant of the mass Monsignor Ciarán O'Carroll. RTÉ News Now RTÉ News Now

“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. 

“She had great empathy and sense of fairness and treated everyone with courtesy and respect. 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.”

St Brigids Church St Brigid's Church in Kill, where the funeral mass was held. RTÉ News Now RTÉ News Now

O’Carroll said that Marian had to “carry the cross of bereavement with the death of her beloved daughter Sinead – a bereavement she bore with tremendous dignity”. Her daughter Sinéad died of leukemia, aged 8.

“Your presence here this morning,” O’Carroll told the congregation, “along with so many public and private messages received over the past days, constitute a tremendous source of solace and strength to the family at this time of inexpressible grief.”

Marian 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.

A private burial will take place after the funeral Mass. 

The entrance hymn was The Bright Lady, played on the uilleann pipes by Peter Browne, a former RTÉ radio producer, while Mo Ghile Mear was the final musical piece.

Earlier tributes

Friends and former colleagues reacted with shock and sadness upon hearing the news of the RTÉ presenter’s death last week. 

“A defining voice for RTE Radio 1, and for the nation,” is how Tom McGuire, Head of RTÉ Radio One described his colleague, stating that her work on Liveline was without parallel. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Liveline’s current presenter Joe Duffy said he was in shock after hearing the news. 

“She invented Liveline,” he said, stating that everyone knew they would get a fair hearing off Marian. 

Born in 1950, Marian Finucane first worked with RTÉ in the 1970s. A qualified architect, she became a programme presenter working on programmes concerned with contemporary social issues, especially those concerning women, notably on Women Today.

She became a household name with her Liveline programme on RTÉ Radio One. A winner of the Prix Italia, her television work included Consumer Choice and Crime Line.

On Gay Byrne’s retirement in 1999, she took over his early morning radio slot to present The Marian Finucane Show, ultimately taking over the morning slots on Saturday and Sunday.

- with reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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