Sunday 28 December 2014

A dignified final farewell amid the driving rain

Published 26/08/2014 | 02:30

Kathleen Reynolds with her son Albert, daughter Cathy and husband Niall and their children Charlie and Harry at the graveside of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds at Shanganagh Cemetery.
Kathleen Reynolds with her son Albert, daughter Cathy and husband Niall and their children Charlie and Harry at the graveside of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds at Shanganagh Cemetery.
Albert Reynolds’s coffin is carried into the cemetery.
The former Taoiseach’s daughters at the cemetery.

KATHLEEN Reynolds stood close to the graveside flanked by her two sons, Philip and Albert Junior, who had intertwined their umbrellas above their mother to protect her from the driving rain.

Some distance away, amid a forest of umbrellas, stood the four men who followed Albert Reynolds after he stood down as the country's ninth Taoiseach on December 15, 1994. Former Taoisigh John Bruton, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen joined Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as dignitaries mingled with close family, friends and neighbours, to bid ' Albert' a fond and final farewell at Shanganagh Cemetery in the shadow of the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.

The torrential rain appeared to make the 300 soldiers of all ranks even more determined to uphold the solemnity of ceremonies to honour a fallen former Taoiseach. The raindrops bouncing on umbrellas formed a kind of backtrack to the long periods of respectful silence, which was only punctuated by the staccato orders of Lieutenant Colonel Walter Hunt, the chief marshal .

The Number 1 Army Band led the funeral procession into the cemetery, playing their own medley adaptation aptly called "Caoineadh agus Bron", or "Sorrow and Lament". The haunting suite of tunes had as its centrepiece the beautiful air by O'Carolan entitled 'Lament for Eoghan Rua O'Neill' which honours the 17th Century Irish chieftain.

The bearer party of eight senior NC0s folded the flag which had all weekend draped the coffin with due solemnity before presenting it to Kathleen Reynolds in keeping with tradition. Tradition was also upheld by the honour guard carrying 'reversed arms' an honour for a deceased leader traceable dating to ancient Greece.

The firing party from 27th Batallion, Dundalk, offered in response to the escalating Northern Troubles. The work of Albert Reynolds for peace in the North means these soldiers have a less onerous role these days.

Irish Independent

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