'Hearts are still beating today' thanks to surgeon's gift for life
MANY hearts "are still beating today" because of the skills of Maurice Neligan, the pioneering cardiologist's funeral was told yesterday.
Mr Neligan was described as a beloved husband, father and grandfather, a man who "loved to have fun" and who knew how to dissolve the worries of patients into laughter.
The sons of the renowned heart surgeon paid tribute to their father as a "hero" who "could not be encapsulated into a short speech or a long speech, a week or even a month".
"His was truly a life lived and a life loved," his youngest son David told mourners at his funeral at the Church of the Assumption in Booterstown, Co Dublin.
Hundreds of people filed into the small church to pay their final respects, with mourners led by by Mr Neligan's wife Pat, their children Maurice, John, David, Kate, Lisa and Lucy, his sister Margot and six grandchildren. His daughter Sara died tragically in 2007.
Mr Neligan's youngest son drew laughter from the mourners when he spoke of his father as an "unashamed Rock Boy" who thought it fitting to wear his Blackrock College school tie for his first Late Late Show appearance.
"He was a man who loved to have fun," but who had given freely of his time, advice and skills to anyone who asked for them.
He said it was typical for an anxious couple to come to his father before surgery, only to be laughing "within minutes".
Meanwhile, David spoke of his sadness that his father would not be present at his own wedding to fiancee Tara McCloskey next year.
Son John spoke briefly of his sister's tragic death in 2007, saying: "Sara's passing hit my father incredibly hard but he brought us together and he held us up." He quoted his father's words on Sara's death: "I unreservedly believe that we will meet again."
Eldest son, Maurice jnr, described his father as a simple man, "wise, gentle and very scholarly" who was the reason he too became a surgeon.
His father had helped to develop world-class cardiac surgery in this country for adults and children, and had used his "lofty position in the public eye" developed through a lifetime of hard work to give a voice to those "who had none".
Parish Priest Mgr Seamus Conway spoke of Mr Neligan as a man whose "underlying kindness" had been experienced by many patients who felt they had come to know him personally. He asked the congregation to give thanks for "the lives saved, lives prolonged, the lives enhanced" throughout his career.
Mgr Conway said Mr Neligan's death last Friday had come as a great shock and sadness to his family but he reminded them that like in the reading by St Paul, read by Mr Neligan's daughter Kate, that: "Maurice fought the good fight. He finished the race and was faithful to the end". A reflection from Victor Hugo's 'Toilers of the Sea' was read by his daughter Lucy.
After the funeral, the remains were taken to Mount Jerome Crematorium.