Saturday 23 September 2017

Duggan 'beyond legend' - but a softie at heart

Willie Duggan. Picture: Sportsfile
Willie Duggan. Picture: Sportsfile
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

He was a giant and a leader both on the field and off. But Ireland rugby great Willie Duggan was also a softie at heart who loved an epic weepie like 'Braveheart' and "poured his soul" into his granddaughter Jo and "loved her with every sinew of his body".

In a eulogy to her father in the form of a quirky and imaginative open letter to him, that was at times rip-roaringly funny and heartbreakingly sad, children's author Helena Duggan told mourners at the funeral at St Mary's Cathedral in Kilkenny that Duggan had a huge heart.

Donal Lenihan Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Donal Lenihan Picture: Colin O'Riordan

"You had a deep soul," she said. "They say you were a legend on the pitch and you said it wasn't true. But you went beyond that in our house," she told her father.

"You were our everything, you were beyond legend to us."

En route to the funeral, the hearse carrying the remains paid a brief, final stop at Duggan's former family home at James Square, with his wife Ellen and children Willie Jnr, Helena and Monica following.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide de camp commandant Louise Conlon.

Tony Ward and Ciaran Fitzgerald Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Tony Ward and Ciaran Fitzgerald Picture: Colin O'Riordan

The funeral saw many from the world of rugby past and present in attendance, including former Ireland internationals Tony Ward, Mick Galwey, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Donal Lenihan, Tom Grace, Ian McIlrath, Niall Brophy and Neil Francis.

Irish Independent

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