Sunday 25 September 2016

'His was a voice of integrity and that voice is now stilled' - Hundreds bid farewell to esteemed journalist James Downey

Published 23/04/2016 | 16:05

James Downey's wife Moira, daughters Rachel and Vanessa follow his remains through Dromahair.
Photo Brian Farrell
James Downey's wife Moira, daughters Rachel and Vanessa follow his remains through Dromahair. Photo Brian Farrell

An incisive mind, a man of great wit and good humour and with a unrivalled insight into the Irish psyche, these were the tributes paid to esteemed journalist James Downey as hundreds gathered in the small Leitrim village of Dromahair for his funeral mass.

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“His was a voice of integrity and that voice is now stilled,” Fr John McTiernan told mourners.

Addressing mourners at his funeral mass, his daughter Rachel told how journalism and politics had been his “life blood” and gave him so much joy.

“He used to say Rachel it’s not work, it s a privilege," she added.

Funeral Mass of journalist James Downey, St Patrick's Church, Dromahair, Co Leitrim. Photo Brian Farrell
Funeral Mass of journalist James Downey, St Patrick's Church, Dromahair, Co Leitrim. Photo Brian Farrell

She recalled the Irish Independent columnist as not only one of the finest journalists of our generation but “also a brilliant teacher, a remarkable advisor and the best father we could ever have wished for.”

“He became a journalist because he believed in a better world, one that is more equal, inclusive and based on social justice and saw journalism as a means to achieve this," she added.

Mourners from the world of media and politics joined the family in paying their final respects to the journalist.

Among them were Irish Independent editor Fionnán Sheahan, RTE's Tommie Gorman, Sean Whelan and former London editor Mike Burns and journalists David McKittrick, Dan White, Ciaran Byrne, Miriam Lord, Mary Maher, Conor O'Clery, Paddy Clancy and Gerry Thornley.

Funeral Mass of journalist James Downey Photo Brian Farrell
Funeral Mass of journalist James Downey Photo Brian Farrell

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his Aide de Camp Ltd Commander Patricia Butler, while former TDs Brendan Smith, Conor Lenihan, Declan Bree and Frank Feighan were also in attendance.

Fr McTiernan told the congregation that the Lord had called James Downey gently home last Wednesday, just one day before his 53rd wedding anniversary.

Describing him as a man with “unrivalled insight into the Irish psyche” and, a journalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of world news and public affairs he added: "we miss an incisive mind, a man of great wit and good humour, most of the time. Jim didn’t suffer fools gladly but he didn’t do humility when in full flight."

"When he warmed to you he was wonderful company, especially over a glass of wine and there was always a memorable quotation to take away," he added.

During the mass, his grandchildren Sean, James, Catherine and Colm read prayers of the faithful, praying for our political leaders that they would be inspired to govern the nation to justice and equality to all people, as James had worked tirelessly to achieve.

His grandsons gave a rendition of Panis angelicus while his granddaughter Catherine played I Believe in Angels on the clarinet.

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