Taoiseach leads mourners at the funeral mass of former Tanaiste Peter Barry
PETER Barry’s son Tony today recalled how his father built a national tea business from a small family grocer in Cork.
He was speaking at the funeral of the late Tánaiste, where President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among the huge congregation at St Michael’s church in Blackrock.
Mourners came to pay final respects to the former Fine Gael TD and government minister who died aged 88 after a short illness.
All of Mr Barry’s 21 grandchildren played an active role in the funeral ceremony as did his four sons and two daughters.
Tony Barry recalled his father’s commitment to national politics and noted that he was supported throughout his long career by his late wife Margaret.
“He had a terrible head for names and mum was always there to help him over that,” Mr Barry joked.
He also noted his father’s love of rugby with a life-long devotion to Cork Constitution.
Peter Barry was also a passionate supporter of Cork GAA and he believed that organisation was the best in the country, he said.
Mr Barry said his father wanted to go to university when he finished school at Christian Brothers College but the small family shop was not going well and so he went to work there.
The business also did a small line in tea blend and one day in the 1950s somebody came and offered him market research, which was then almost unheard of.
The research revealed great demand for Barry’s Tea and it encouraged him to expands and advertise.
From there the product became a huge success.
Government ministers in attendance included Simon Coveney, Leo Varadkar, Charlie Flanagan, Michael Creed, Simon Harris and Regina Doherty.
Junior Ministers David Stanton, Dara Murphy and Patrick O'Donovan were also present at this morning’s ceremony as was parliamentary party chairman, Martin Heydon and his fellow Kildare based TD Bernard Durkan.
Cork Fine Gael representatives in attendance included Jim Daly TD and Senator Jerry Buttimer.
Former TDs included Bernard Allen, Paul Bradford, John Browne, and Gerry Reynolds as well as former Munster MEP, John Cushnahan also paid their respects.
Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin and finance spokesman Michael McGrath attended as did Labour leader Brendan Howlin.
Cork GAA county secretary, Frank Murphy, was also in attendance.
Representing Fine Gael's backroom team were secretary general, Tom Curran and finance director John Mitchell along with former strategist Finbarr Fitzpatrick.
Former ministers included Alan Dukes, Nora Owen, and Sean Barrett. Former Attorney General and EU Commissioner were among the congregation as was the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Dr Paul Colton.