Irish News

Thursday 21 August 2014

Veronica's 'heroic' mum gets wish of a simple funeral

Lise Hand

Published 18/01/2014 | 02:30

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(on right) Cathal Guerin, son of Veronica Guerin, at his grandmother Bernie's funeral mass this morning. PIC Mark Condren 17.01.2014
Cathal Guerin, son of Veronica Guerin, at his grandmother Bernie's funeral mass this morning. Photo: Mark Condren
Graham Turley husband of Veronica Guerin at the funeral mass of Veronica's mother Bernie  this morning at Our Lady of Mercy, Artane. also included on left is Lucy Gaffney
Pic:Mark Condren
17.1.2014
Graham Turley husband of Veronica Guerin at the funeral mass of Veronica's mother Bernie. On left is Lucy Gaffney Photo: Mark Condren
Veronica Guerin

Bernie Guerin's funeral Mass perfectly reflected the down-to-earth, no-nonsense nature of the woman.

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Friends and family who packed into the Church of the Holy Family in Artane, Dublin, to pay a final farewell to the mother of journalist Veronica Guerin were told that she had left specific requests for a low-key funeral Mass, with no hymns, no flowers, no eulogies.

The family requested donations be made to the Irish Cancer Society in lieu of flowers.

The chief mourners were her surviving children, sons Jimmy and Martin and daughters Marie-Therese and Clare. Her husband Chris died in 1982, and Veronica was murdered in June 1996.

Veronica's son Cathal travelled from Dubai to accompany his father Graham Turley.

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Bernie's coffin made the short trip from her home to the church yesterday morning and was adorned with a single wreath of flowers. A copy of the scriptures and a crucifix were placed atop the casket, along with what was one of her favourite photographs of herself looking especially glamorous.

While the service honoured Bernie's instructions, nonetheless Father Michael O'Grady, who was celebrating the Mass, paid warm tribute to the woman who found herself in the national spotlight after her daughter was assassinated almost 18 years ago.

He described her as a "wonderful Irish mother, the likes of whom we'll indeed be very fortunate to see again".

Fr O'Grady said: "I'm often reminded that sometimes we look for heroes in all the wrong places. Our heroes are often the ones who do the ordinary things extraordinarily well, the ones whose love makes us who and what we are. And Bernie was such a hero."

And speaking about the devastation caused to her by Veronica's death, he added: "She drew strength from all the awards that Veronica was honoured with, and the way that her death unleashed much tighter controls on how crime was dealt with."

The Killybegs-born woman was played by Irish actress Brenda Fricker in the biopic 'Veronica Guerin', and formed a friendship with the film's director Joel Schumacher.

Fr O'Grady told how Bernie's son Martin had described his mother as someone who "never stood on protocol, no matter who she met in life -- presidents or film-stars, neighbours and friends, all were to be treated the same," he said, adding that she had been "especially proud of her grandchildren".

Speaking of her religious devotion, Fr O'Grady described how, "it helped her as she was forced to carry heavy crosses in her life".

Bernie's son Martin thanked family and friends, and also expressed gratitude to the staff of Tralee General Hospital for the care given to her mother in her final days. He also explained that the simple Mass had been Bernie's wish. She had asked for "simplicity, and what mom wanted mom got."

Among Veronica's former media colleagues to attend were 'Sunday Independent' editor Anne Harris and deputy editor Willie Kealy, as were crime writer Paul Williams and Tony Hickey, the detective who led the investigation into the death of Veronica, Seamus Dooley of the NUJ as were politicians Conor and Sean Haughey.

Bernie's funeral was followed by burial in St Fintan's cemetery, Sutton.

Irish Independent

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