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The history books will be full of the foundation shakers we lost in 2016

The good, the bad, and the controversial: for better, or worse, these people influenced our lives through theirs.

THIS YEAR, WE lost many luminaries of the stage and screen.

At the very start of the year, we mourned David Bowie and Alan Rickman before losing Terry Wogan and Prince later in the spring and, more recently, George Michael and Carrie Fisher.

But there were also many well-known faces that will fade into the history books from 2016 – from world leaders to controversial local politicians and Nobel prize winners to Catholic priests.

Here, we remember – for good and bad – the people who shaped our lives and bid their final farewells in the last 12 months.


Celine Dion’s husband René Angélil passed away, aged 73, on 14 January.

PJ Mara, the long-serving political advisor and press secretary for Fianna Fáil died at the age of 73 on 15 January following a long illness.

PastedImage-52430 Source: Digicel

Jennifer Guinness, the survivor of one of Ireland’s most notorious kidnappings, died on 24 January at the age of 78. Guinness was kidnapped by an armed gang in 1986 and held for eight days for a ransom.

British explorer Henry Worsley died on 25 January as he attempted to make history by crossing the Antarctic alone, recreating Ernest Shackleton’s attempted crossing a century earlier.


Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on 16 February. He was 93 years old.

PastedImage-77243 Source: AP

Controversial former Dublin planner George Redmond died in hospital on 17 February after a short illness. Redmond worked all his life for Dublin county and its local authorities, beginning in 1941 and retiring 48 years later in 1989 aged 65. He is best known to the public however for his involvement in several planning scandals investigated by the Mahon Tribunal (originally the Flood Tribunal).

Author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee died on 19 February, aged 89.

In Ireland, many people thanked the scribe for making their Junior Cert manageable – and even enjoyable at times.


Former First Lady of the United States Nancy Reagan died in her Bel Air hom on 6 March, aged 94. She was a prominent figure during her husband’s two-term presidency and she accompanied him during his 1984 visit to Ireland.

PastedImage-33272 Ronald and Nancy Reagan during their visit to his ancestral home in Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary in 1984. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

On 7 March, the Supreme Court marked the passing of Justice Adrian Hardiman with a special sitting, with his peers leaving his chair empty.

The 64-year-old ‘colossus of the legal world’ received the rare honour of being appointed directly from the bar to the Supreme Court, Ireland’s highest court, aged just 49 in February 2000. He was well-known for his progressive views.

PastedImage-87839 Source: RollingNews.ie


Howard Marks died on 11 April. The well-known personality, who first gained prominence after he published his memoir ‘Mr Nice’ about his career as a drug smuggler, died at age 70, after suffering from bowel cancer.

Sir John Jack Leslie, who owned Castle Leslie in Monaghan, died on 18 April. He was 99 years old.


Labour MP Jo Cox was shot twice and stabbed while hosting an advice clinic in her home constituency on 16 June.

PastedImage-79440 Source: Yui Mok/PA


Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel died at the age of 87 on 3 July. The Nobel Laureate was responsible for writing about his experiences in the Holocaust and the unspeakable horrors he witnessed as a young boy.

After settling in New York, he wrote about his experiences in his Nobel Prize-winning memoir Night. In total, the professor and scholar wrote 57 books. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.

Well-known businessman Des Kelly died peacefully as his home in Dunboyne, Co Meath on 21 July. He was the owner of the popular chain of Des Kelly Interiors furniture stores which had locations across Dublin. He began selling second hand carpets in the 1960s before going on to open his furniture company.


Edward Daly, the Catholic priest who famously waved a white flag while trying to aid the wounded on Bloody Sunday, died on 8 August. He was 82.

PastedImage-67498 Edward Daly waving a white handkerchief as the body of Jackie Duddy is carried to safety on Bloody Sunday in 1972 Source: RTE

Former Tánaiste and deputy leader of Fine Gael Peter Barry died at the age of 88 on 26 August.

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute, saying he was “immensely popular across all parties and… had a deep commitment to Cork city and its heritage”.

His view of Irish history was a long one and he brought all that wisdom to bear in his contributions to achieving the Anglo Irish Agreement of 1985.

Higgins also spoke with great sadness following the death of former Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres on 28 September.

“Shimon Peres’ life and political actions were shaped by his deep commitment to his ideals, by his wisdom and by dedication to his country and to peace in the region,” he said, echoing the words of Barack Obama.

“There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves,” the US president said in a statement.

“My friend Shimon was one of those people.”

Bobby Molloy, the former Fianna Fáil TD and one of the founders of the Progressive Democrats, died aged 80 on 2 October.

He is probably best remembered for the fraught nature of the circumstances in which he left Fianna Fáil, along with fellow renegade Dessie O’Malley, in 1986.

PastedImage-22264 Source: Graham Hughes

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej died after a long illness, the palace announced on 13 October, ending a remarkable seven-decade reign and leaving a divided people bereft of a towering and rare figure of unity.

The popular WLR FM presenter, Billy McCarthy, was known as the Voice of Waterford. He died, aged 62, on 20 November after a short illness.

World renowned Cork-born writer William Trevor died at the age of 88 on 21 November. The author, who is as known for his short story writing as his novels, died at his home in Devon according to his publisher Penguin Random House.

Fidel Castro, who led Cuba for almost 50 years, died at the age of 90 on 26 November. The news of his death was confirmed by his brother, current president Raul Castro, on Cuban television.


American hero and pioneering astronaut John Glenn died, aged 95, on 8 December. Glenn’s limit-defying career also saw him become the oldest man ever to fly in space when he boarded the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998.

‘AA Gill is away’ was the poignant message at the bottom of the critic’s usual Sunday Times column page after his death on 10 December. It was just two weeks since he revealed the extent of his diagnosis, telling his readers he had the ‘full English’ of cancer.

The first Ireland Professor of Poetry John Montague also died on 10 December, at the age of 87.

A well known figure in the Irish business community, Gillian Bowler set up Budget Travel after serving as chairperson of Irish Life and Permanent. She died on 15 December, aged 64.

Richard Adams, who wrote Watership Down, died aged 96 on Christmas Eve.

Writer, poet, critic and cultural advisor Anthony Cronin passed away on 28 December, aged 88. He is remembered and mourned by friend and President Michael D Higgins who says he will miss his “generous wit, contestatory humour and capacity for life in all its contradictions”.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

More: The year of the RIP: Is 2016 really taking away our most loved stars?

Read: Bowie, Prince and Cohen: A year to remember musical genius

Related: Saying goodbye to those we lost from the stage and screen in 2016

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