Thursday 18 January 2018

A goodbye to Tony Fenton

Stars turn out in force to pay tribute at funeral of radio star

Tony Fenton's girlfriend Sinead Lynch holding a framed picture of him.
Tony Fenton's girlfriend Sinead Lynch holding a framed picture of him.
Ray D'Arcy arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Ronan Collins arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Brenda Donoghue arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Lottie and Morah Ryan arrive at Tony Fenton's funeral
Dave Fanning arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Billy McGUinness from Aslan (in glasses) arrives at the funeral of Tony Fenton.
Ian Dempsey arrives at the funeral of Tony Fenton
Andrea Corr arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Ali Hewson and Bono at Tony Fenton's funeral
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

U2 sang 'Ordinary Love' from the altar at the funeral of legendary DJ Tony Fenton, in tribute to the mutual affection between them down the years.

The funeral mass at Donnybrook church today was attended by some of the leading names in music, broadcasting and entertainment, to pay tribute to "one of the leading lights of the golden age of radio".

DJ Tony Fenton
DJ Tony Fenton

Denis O' Brien of Communicorp, Ali Hewson, singer Andrea Corr, comedian Mario Rosenstock, Niall Stokes of Hotpress, chef Derry Clarke, djs Ian Dempsey, Dave Fanning, Larry Gogan, Ray Foley and Jenny Greene, as well as restaurateur Robbie Fox, singer Dickie Rock and Gerry Ryan's widow, Morah Ryan were amongst those who were present.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide de campe, Lieutenant Patricia Butler.

The love of Tony's life, Sinead Lynch, was chief mourner, alongside Tony's siblings Paul, Ann, Colm and Kevin, as well as nieces and nephews.

The music was played mostly by singer Paul Harrington, a great friend of Tony's - who revealed that the late dj had chosen the list himself - for what was to be his one final "show."

Ronan Collins arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Ronan Collins arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Dave Fanning arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Lottie and Morah Ryan arrive at Tony Fenton's funeral
Andrea Corr arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Ian Dempsey arrives at the funeral of Tony Fenton
Ali Hewson and Bono at Tony Fenton's funeral
Billy McGUinness from Aslan (in glasses) arrives at the funeral of Tony Fenton.
Ray D'Arcy arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral
Brenda Donoghue arrives at Tony Fenton's funeral

Accordingly, mourners were treated to a sunny Summer's day selection of hits, including Van Morrison's 'Into the Mystic', and Bobby Womack's 'Across 110th Street'.

Chief celebrant Fr Brendan Kealy - a friend for the past 25 years - brought laughter to the church with frequent affectionate mimicking of the legendary dj's distinctive smooth caramel tones.

Friends brought up symbols of Tony's rich life, including a compass to represent his great love of sailing, a cook book, and a microphone representing his great love of radio.

His nephew Jordan Fagan brought up Tony's much cherished letter from Chelsea football boss Jose Mourinho.

There was huge applause after U2 played Ordinary Love and afterwards Fr Kealy said "Tony would have given you the nod of respect," again in the DJ's own trademark drawl and the church burst into laughter and more applause.

Fr Kealy described him as the "Voice of a Generation."

He mentioned Tony’s pride at being awarded the Freedom of Connemara, quipping: “that was a great day, actually I think it turned out to be a week.”

He said the legendary broadcaster sounded the same off-air as he did on-air, saying “you could be sitting there with him and if you closed your eyes you’d think you’d forgotten to turn the radio off.”

Tony was always recognised when he was out and about, “especially the girls,” said Fr Kealy, saying that someone would come over and excitedly say: “Are you Tony Fenton.”

Tony, he quipped – again in a flawless imitation of  the broadcaster - would reply: “Maybe.”

“His voice was his face,” said Fr Kealy.

“Some stories you couldn’t tell in the sanctuary of the church,” said  Fr Kealy, adding: “And some you can.”

He told the congregation how he had once gone on holiday with  Tony and friend Jim Corr, and the two had left him to “mind the bags” while they went to sort out a rental car.

Tony had come out, impressively saying: “It’s all C class  - coupes, cabriolets,” before returning with a two door Renault Clio.

Fr Kealy was about to take off when a voice came from the back saying: “Hey Bren, drive out like it’s stolen.”

“He was king of the one-liners,” Fr Kealy told mourners, saying: “Even talking about Tony brings a smile to our faces.”

Meanwhile Mario Rosenstock gave a heartfelt eulogy to the DJ, saying: “I don’t think anybody else in the world would be able to get the biggest band in the world to play at his funeral.”

“Fun, fun, fun are the words I think of when I think of Tony,” he said.

“Only Tony Fenton could organise his funeral the day before the national holiday.”

Meanwhile, he spoke of Tony’s love of language, saying he had “skewed the English language into his own.”

Before a big night out, he would tell Mario to “bring your helmet and your gum shield.”

“We will never ever forget you,” Mario said in an address to the legendary DJ. “Look around, isn’t this the ultimate nod of respect to you.”

“We can never duplicate the dude,” he ended, to ringing applause in the church.

The broadcaster was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010.

The funeral took place in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook before burial in Glasnevin Cemetery.

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