THE staff of the CityWest Hotel stood unflinching in the driving rain to form a guard of honour for their old boss Jim Mansfield.
The former tycoon will be remembered by his family as a "unique and special patriarch" who "can never be replaced", his daughter-in-law Anita Mansfield told mourners at his funeral yesterday.
And while he will be remembered by most as a businessman, the family would remember him differently, she said, as "a great family man, a devoted father, husband and grandfather". She added: "He was so proud of his sons as they were of him. He was a man who never took no for an answer."
Mr Mansfield (75) passed away at home in Saggart, west Dublin, on Wednesday following a long illness.
Parish priest Fr Enda Cunningham said it had been "too tempting" for many people to pass judgment on him.
However, he warned of the danger of passing judgment on somebody we do not know, and said only the family were in a position to do so.
Hundreds of funeral mourners filled the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – just yards from the gates of the CityWest Hotel, which had been Mr Mansfield's pride and joy until it was sold by receivers last October.
Among those in attendance were singers Paddy Reilly and Dickie Rock, solicitor and developer Noel Smyth, former FAI chief Bernard O'Byrne and former Fianna Fail TD Charlie O'Connor.
The chief mourners were Mr Mansfield's widow, Anne; their sons Tony, Jimmy and PJ; his brothers Joe and Paddy; and his grandchildren.
The funeral Mass was low-key with an almost 'country' feel in this still-rural part of Co Dublin, six kilometres from Brittas, where Mr Mansfield grew up.
Talk at the back of the church before the Mass began was openly of interest rates and business, collapsed and otherwise.
"This place would have collapsed only for her," said a local woman of Anne Mansfield's support of the local church.
Fr Cunningham told the congregation that he had still been in the seminary when he had first heard the phrase: "The view from the bridge is different from the view of the deck."
While many people had rushed to judge Jim Mansfield, "after listening to the radio" he said: "There are some in this parish who will swear by Jim and be forever indebted to him," he said, adding that Mr Mansfield had brought employment to the local area.
"Security of house and home was assured because of his consideration," Fr Cunningham said.
He said Tony, Jimmy and PJ, his wife and close friends were "alone equipped" to judge the businessman but there were moments of "shared laughter, tears and exquisite joy" which should not be shared with everyone. Paying tribute to Mr Mansfield's "drive and ambition" and his pride at belonging to the local community and his focus on his family, he said: "So much more could be said but not here, not now."
The coffin left the church for burial to the strains of Frank Sinatra's 'My Way'. A fitting anthem for a larger than life character.