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Monday 5 December 2016

A final rapturous applause as 'the Duke' laid to rest

Published 21/05/2011 | 05:00

Brian, son of Sean Dunphy (inset), with the coffin. Gareth Chaney CollinsClockwise from top: Finbar Clancy and Martin Furey with Sean's grandson Sam Dunphy (6); Noel V Ginity; Finbar Furey; Pete St John; and Sean's wife Lily. Gareth Chaney Collins

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RAPTUROUS applause rang out one final time for the charismatic golden voice of showband legend Sean Dunphy as his lyrical Eurovision ballad accompanied the removal of his remains for burial.

His 1967 hit 'If I could Choose' was Ireland's second-ever entry to the song contest -- but on the occasion was pipped at the post by Sandie Shaw's 'Puppet on a String', composed by fellow Irishman Phil Coulter.

Mourners at his funeral yesterday smiled as his son John told how it had always "baffled" his father "how he was beaten by a young girl in a short skirt".

His son Brian said: "My pal is gone. Dad, we will sing together again someday."

Mr Dunphy, an ex-army man with the mellow baritone, became the first Irish singer to record in Nashville, Tennessee.

He was best known as lead vocalist with The Hoedowners, recording 14 hit singles between 1966 and 1973 and was Ireland's top recording artist in 1970.

Last year, he received his platinum disc after 55 years in the business.

Many well-known names from the Irish music world came to pay their last respects to 'the Duke'.

Among them were songwriter Pete St John, who composed the 'Fields of Athenry', and Earl Gill, the trumpeter and leader of The Hoedowners.

Finbarr Clancy, Martin Furey and Darren Holden of the High Kings were also present to support their fellow bandmember Brian Dunphy, Sean's son.

Mr Dunphy (73) died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Baldoyle, north Dublin, having made his last a public engagement just 24 hours beforehand at a charity event.

Chief mourners at his funeral were his wife, Lily, sons John, Gerard and Brian, and his daughter Mary.

They included his four grandchildren Jack, Shane, Alex and Sam, brothers Christie and Patsy and his sister Anne.

To tumultuous applause, the High Kings performed 'Red is the Rose' but the last musical chord was struck by 'the Duke' himself.

'If I could Choose' was played as his coffin left the church for burial at Greenogue cemetery in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

Irish Independent

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