Friday 20 October 2017

'We will always dance to legend Larry Cunningham's music, sing his songs and tell his stories'

Eoghan MacConnell

SHOWBAND legend Larry Cunningham was not a celebrity, he was a star, his good friend Fr Brian D'Arcy told mourners at his funeral.

Giving the homily, Fr D'Arcy described his friend as a character, performer, storyteller but most of all a great family man.

To his family, he remarked, "we are not burying a star today, we are actually burying a great human being".

"Larry was not a celebrity, he was a star and there is a difference. A star is a real human being who wins respect, a celebrity is a lot less than that," he explained.

"You will not be forgotten as we will always dance to your music and sing your songs and tell your stories," Fr D'Arcy told the congregation, which was packed with a host of Ireland's leading musicians, who turned out to pay tribute and bid farewell to the pioneering Longford singer.

Mr Cunningham, who broke new ground for Irish artists by gaining success in the UK charts in 1964, passed away aged 74 following an illness at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin on Friday.

Among the hundreds of mourners at his funeral Mass yesterday in St Columba's Church in his native Mullinalaghta, Co Longford, were fellow singers Big Tom, Philomena Begley, Brendan Bowyer, Mike Denver and Daniel O'Donnell.

Loyal

Mr O'Donnell described Larry's passing as the end of an era. "It's a sad day for people in the music business, obviously his wife, Beatrice and his family, lose much more than we do," he said.

Mr Cunningham's daughter Sinead said she remembered a man who shied away from the limelight -- a father, carpenter, musician, who enjoyed Gaelic football and would leave hospital to raise money for charity.

"Our dad was a very loyal man and he would do anything for a friend in need," she said.

"His 40-year marriage to my mum was full of laughter and joy," she recalled.

Larry's son Lorcan thanked the caring staff at St Vincent's Hospital, the chief celebrant, Monsignor Bart Nannery and all those who supported and assisted the family in their time of grief.

He paid a special tribute to Larry's fans. "Dad was so appreciative of his fans throughout his 50-year career, thanks to you he hadn't seen the floorboards in years and today is no exception."

'Only Our Rivers Run Free' played at the graveside as Larry was laid to rest.

Larry is survived by his wife Beatrice, daughters Regina and Sinead, sons Barry and Lorcan and his grandchildren Molly and Peter.

Irish Independent

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