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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Cork bids sad farewell to Peter Barry

'Greatest leader Fine Gael and Ireland never had' begins his final journey

Published 28/08/2016 | 02:30

FAMILY: The coffin of Peter Barry is carried by his grandsons from O’Connor’s funeral home, Temple Hill, Cork, to St Michael’s Church, Blackrock. Photo: Michael MacSweeney
FAMILY: The coffin of Peter Barry is carried by his grandsons from O’Connor’s funeral home, Temple Hill, Cork, to St Michael’s Church, Blackrock. Photo: Michael MacSweeney

Hundreds last night paid tribute to former Tanaiste and Fine Gael deputy leader Peter Barry (88).

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Mr Barry, who died last Friday after a short illness, was removed from Temple Hill funeral home on Cork's Boreenmana Road to St Michael's Church in Blackrock, not far from his home of 70 years.

RESPECTED: Peter Barry. Picture: Billy Higgins
RESPECTED: Peter Barry. Picture: Billy Higgins

Huge crowds attended the removal of a man hailed as "the greatest leader Fine Gael and Ireland never had".

Among those to attend the removal last night were former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Housing Minister Simon Coveney and former Tanaiste and Labour leader Dick Spring.

Mr Barry's huge contribution to Cork business life was also reflected by a large attendance of officials from Cork Chamber of Commerce, Cork Business Association, the Irish Exporters Association and Port of Cork.

The Requiem Mass of the father of six at 11.30am tomorrow is now expected to prove a who's who of Irish political, business and cultural life over the past half-century.

Among the mourners will be President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and virtually the entire current Cabinet.

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Former Taoisigh, including Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, as well as a representative of the British government, are also expected to attend.

British officials are to attend to honour the key role Mr Barry played in helping to negotiate the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement.

The deal, hammered out with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, is now credited with laying the foundation of the current Northern Ireland peace agreement and the Stormont power sharing executive.

Mr Barry was predeceased by his wife, Margaret, in 2013.

The mourners will be led by his children, Deirdre, Tony, Fiona, Donagh, Conor and Peter. The former Tanaiste has 21 grandchildren.

His daughter Deirdre Clune held his Dail seat in Cork South Central after his retirement in 1997.

She is now an Ireland South MEP for Fine Gael.

Cork City Council will be represented at the funeral by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Des Cahill, in recognition of the fact Mr Barry served as Cork's first citizen in 1970.

Three generations of the Barry family have served as Cork's lord mayor.

Mr Barry served as a Cork TD for 28 years and also helped oversee the remarkable expansion of his family business, Barry's Tea, into one of Ireland's best-known consumer brands.

He took a successful but effectively local wholesale tea business and helped build it into one of Ireland's best-known retail brands.

Mr Barry described himself in the Dail register throughout his lengthy career as "a tea taster" rather than a businessman.

He also revelled in explaining how the family business traced its roots back to the son of a north Cork blacksmith who was apprenticed to a city grocer and who became famous among Cork shoppers for his uncanny skill in blending tea.

Sunday Independent

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