Sunday 28 December 2014

Colm Murray funeral: RTE’s ‘father figure’ remembered

Published 01/08/2013 | 12:47

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll
President Michael D Higgins
Ann Doyle
Gary Cooke
Charlie Bird
Miriam O Callaghan
Joe Duffy and RTE director Noel Curran

THE worlds of sport and media united to bid farewell to RTE broadcaster Colm Murray today.

The 61-year-old racing pundit died on Monday after a three-year battle with motor neurone disease.

The family of the Westmeath native were supported by friends, colleagues and neighbours as his remains were brought to St Gabriel’s Church in Dollymount in north Dublin from his home in Clontarf this morning.

His wife Ann and daughters Patricia and Kate accompanied his remains as he left the family home.

In a eulogy to her father, Kate Murray said her dad always taught the value of friendship and that you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

"Since dad's diagnosis we have had literally thousands of messages from friends and from total strangers all over the country. I cannot express how moved and thankful we are to everyone for these," she said.

"Dad always believed in the importance of friendship, and he had very good friends, some of whom went above and beyond the call of duty. We can never thank them enough, and I hope they know much their friendship and support meant to my dad and to us all," she added.

RTE came in for special mention from the Murray family.

“We would like to thank everyone's kindness, humanity and decency shown to dad by everybody at RTE at every level. It will never be forgotten. My dad absolutely loved his jobs and his colleagues and I think he knew how blessed he was in that regard," said Kate.

“Our dad loved people. He loved meeting people and talking to people at any opportunity he could,” she explained.

“Sometimes the journey from the car to the race track could be absolutely endless,” Kate added to laughter.

“But that was our dad. While he had a certain talent for exasperating people at times, to Patricia and myself he really was the best dad in the world.”

“We remember so well his ability to tell stories and I think we learned that the secret to his stories was that you never ever let the truth stand it the way of a good story. It’s for these reasons and so many more that his illness broke our hearts and felt for a time like a huge injustice.

Kate added that the manner in which her dad bravely fought his illness is what got the family through and will give them strength in what may be lonely times ahead.

She also praised her mother Ann for her courage, strength and love helping Colm get through his ilness.

“Our dad really was very positive. We are heartbroken, and we will miss him every day, and we will never ever forget him,” said Kate.

Daughter Kate thanked all the medical people and carers who helped Colm through his illness.

“He was warm, kind, generous and so loving. Of course he had an unsurpassed gift for embarrassing us but that was part of the fun.”

“We remember so well his ability to tell stories and I think we learned that the secret to his stories was that you never ever let the truth stand it the way of a good story. It’s for these reasons and so many more that his illness broke our hearts and felt for a time like a huge injustice.

Kate added that the manner in which her dad bravely fought his illness is what got the family through and will give them strength in what may be lonely times ahead.

She also praised her mother Ann for her courage, strength and love helping Colm get through his illness.

“Our dad really was very positive. We are heartbroken, and we will miss him every day, and we will never ever forget him. We were so lucky to have had him.

Chief celebrant Fr Jimmy Murray said the commentator had touched so many lives in so many special ways and praised his extraordinary documentary, where he gave a courageous insight in to life with one of the cruellest and destructive conditions.

“His determination to raise awareness of this little known but terrible illness touched the lives of all who saw that programme,” he told a packed St Gabriel’s Church in Dollymount, north Dublin.

Comedian Gary Cooke had been one of the first to arrive at the church at 11am along with the Taoiseach’s aide-de-camp Commandant Michael Tracy.

Friends

RTE stalwarts Eileen Dunne, David Davin Power, Miriam O'Callaghan, Marty Morrisey and Sean O'Rourke all turned out to pay their respects.

Other stars who worked with Colm at the station - including Jimmy Magee, Ann Doyle and Charlie Bird - were also in attendance.

And presenter Joe Duffy arrived with director general Noel Curran as well as rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll.

Fr Jimmy Murray, a Carmelite priest from Colm’s home town of Moate, delivered the homily and the mass was concelebrated by Fr Pat McManus, parish priest at St Gabriel’s Church.

President Michael D Higgins, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin,  former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and former TD Sean Haughey were also at the church this morning.

Tributes

At a wake in his Clontarf home last night, tributes were paid to the broadcaster and veteran of Montrose.

Former colleague Charlie Bird said the Westmeath native was a brilliant colleague and also paid tribute to his late sister Cathy, a fellow employee at the State broadcaster who died suddenly earlier this year.

“They were just two of the most remarkable people you could ever meet.

“For him to go on Galway Race week is incredibly fitting for a man so passionate about horses,” he said.

Another RTE colleague, Darren Frehill, recalled how Colm was of great help to him throughout his career, but particularly when he was beginning his career in sports journalism.

“I remember back in 1999 at one of the very first press conferences I attended,” he said.

“Colm was the very first person to come up to me and said if there was ever anything he could do for me, to just ask. That was Colm.

“He was a father figure to us all in the RTE sports department and a one-off.

“We're all deeply saddened by the news,” he added.

Cabinet ministers also visited Mr Murray's home on the eve of his funeral, including Arts Minister and close friend Jimmy Deenihan.

“He was the icon of Irish racing and a one-off who brought horse racing to the masses,” he said.

Role

“He played a huge role in the national festivals in Galway and especially in Listowel.

“Above all, he was a decent man and will be missed terribly by his family and friends.”

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton joked that the 61-year-old was the “life and soul of every room, even if he was of a different view politically”.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also paid tribute to the sporting legend.

Other famous faces who attended the wake included colleagues from RTE such as Marty Morrissey, Evanne Ni Chuilinn, Paul Reynolds, Anne Cassin, David Murphy, John Finnerty and Siun Nic Gearailt.

RTE's Sean O'Rourke and former Meath senior football manager Sean Boylan also arrived to pay their respects.

Parish priest Fr Pat McManus, who said requiem mass today, said his family would take comfort from the reaction to Colm’s death.

“Colm was always a fantastic communicator. Even in his illness, he always found a way to explain what he meant. He was marvellous,” he said.

After funeral Mass, Colm Murray’s remains were brought to St Fintan’s cemetery, Sutton.

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