Friday 30 September 2016

Life of Jacqueline O'Brien celebrated by the racing greats

Wife of legendary late horse trainer Vincent remembered

Published 20/03/2016 | 02:30

Lester Piggott and his daughter Tracy Piggott. Photo: Frank McGrath
Lester Piggott and his daughter Tracy Piggott. Photo: Frank McGrath
LOSS: The remains of Jacqueline O’Brien are carried by family after the funeral mass. Photo: Frank McGrath
FAREWELL: Anne-Marie McManus and husband Kieran. Photo: Frank McGrath
Michael Lowry sympathises. Photo: Frank McGrath
Eimear Mulhern at St Patrick’s Church in Celbridge. Photo: Frank McGrath
President Michael D Higgins with JP McManus. Photo: Frank McGrath

In the course of her long, eventful and fruitful life, Jacqueline O'Brien provided what her son, Charles, described in an affectionate eulogy to his late mother as "the perfect foil" for her husband, the late and legendary racing trainer Vincent O'Brien.

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Yesterday, Jacqueline O'Brien's five children, 19 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren were joined by hundreds of close friends from the worlds of horse racing, business and politics at St Patrick's Church in Celbridge, Co Kildare to celebrate her near-90 years of life, all of which, the congregation heard, she had lived to the full.

The mass, which Mrs O'Brien had planned personally, paying meticulous attention to every detail in her final weeks, was traditional yet replete with deeply personal touches which saw her "treasured grandchildren" perform the readings and prayers of the faithful. A final and fitting note came with Mrs O'Brien's granddaughter, Tara's, reading of WB Yeats's The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

In attendance at the mass were President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, the Australian ambassador to Ireland, Ruth Adler, and the Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan. Horse racing - the sport in which her late husband had led a charge that the current generation of Irish trainers continue to follow with aplomb - was understandably well-represented.

Chief among these mourners was Coolmore Stud owner John Magnier, who is married to Jacqueline's daughter Susan. Also at the service was the chairman of internationally-renowned bloodstock agents Goffs, and daughter of the late Taoiseach Charles Haughey, Eimear Mulhern, former champion jockeys Lester Piggott, Jonjo O'Neill and the celebrated trainers Ted Walsh, Aidan O'Brien, Dermot Weld, Michael 'Mouse' Morris, Jessica Harrington, Tom Taaffe and John Oxx. Lester Piggott was accompanied by his daughter, the former jockey and well-known racing broadcaster, Tracy Piggott. RTE's racing commentator Robert Hall also attended.

Several high-profile names from business including the billionaire financier Dermot Desmond, businessman and racehorse owner JP McManus, developer and racehorse owner Michael O'Flynn, and leading auctioneer Arthur French were also there to pay their respects.

JP McManus's son, Kieran, attended the funeral mass with his wife, Anne Marie. John Byrne Jnr - the son of the late John Byrne - was also in attendance. Politicians past and present within the congregation included former finance ministers Ray McSharry and Charlie McCreevy, who was accompanied by his wife, Noeleen, the Independent TD Michael Lowry, Fianna Fail TD Sean Haughey and Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan. Founder of the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation, Jonathan Irwin, also attended.

See: Obituary, page 33

Sunday Independent

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