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Sunday 25 September 2016

The woman behind the Healy-Rae name is laid to rest

Published 01/10/2015 | 02:30

Carrying the remains of Julie Healy-Rae (pictured right) at her funeral in St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, were (from left): grandson Jack and sons Michael, Denis and Danny Healy-Rae
Carrying the remains of Julie Healy-Rae (pictured right) at her funeral in St Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, were (from left): grandson Jack and sons Michael, Denis and Danny Healy-Rae
Julie Healy-Rae

She was the great woman behind the man - but it was the late Julie Healy-Rae who gave the family its famous double-barrel name.

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Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae revealed that it was his American-born mother who encouraged her husband to adopt the Rae part of the surname. It was because of the townland he was born in and to distinguish him from all the other Healys in Kilgarvan.

The couple had just moved home from New York to the Co Kerry village to open a pub, and although she only knew him as 'John', the name that went over the door was 'Jackie Healy-Rae'.

And so a legend was born.

The TD was speaking at the funeral Mass of his mother Julie (84), who passed away earlier this week following a short illness.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, the young Julie Healy, who bore the same surname as her future husband, was raised in New York by her adoptive parents.

At a packed St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney, Mr Healy-Rae said it was fitting to celebrate the life of a great woman, who would be remembered as a "real lady".

He also revealed that when his mother arrived in Killarney, she was met by a man named Michael Jones, who introduced her to the taxi driver, John Healy, and the rest was history.

It also emerged that his mother was a talented linguist, who spoke several languages, including Arabic, and had worked at the Syrian Consulate in New York.

"She was a most special and intelligent person who will be missed so much.

"She had a powerful brain and could speak many languages."

Mrs Healy-Rae passed away only nine months after her husband. They reared a family of six and even though they had separated in 1977, they remained friends.

Mrs Healy-Rae was laid to rest in Aghadoe Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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