A LARGE crowd of mourners gathered in the bitter cold last night for the removal of 'Sunday Independent' editor Aengus Fanning who died on Tuesday aged 69.
Family, friends, colleagues packed into St Joseph's Church in Glasthule, just a stone's throw from his beloved Dun Laoghaire seafront to say goodbye to a man who was many things -- father, husband, brother and a giant of the Irish media, also musician, proud Kerryman and a larger-than-life presence in the world of journalism.
Chief among the mourners were his wife, Anne Harris, deputy editor of the 'Sunday Independent'; sons Dion, Evan and Stephen; step-daughters Constance and Nancy; and brothers Rio, Patrick and Connell. He was predeceased by his first wife Mary, mother of their three sons.
The large church was filled with mourners from every walk of life, reflecting Aengus's varied interests.
There were many colleagues from Independent Newspapers and from the media, including Gavin O'Reilly, chief executive officer of Independent Newspapers & Media plc; Joe Webb, chief executive of Independent News & Media Ireland; former Independent Newspapers chairman, Dr Brian Hillery; Michael Denieffe, group managing editor; Stephen Rae, editor of the 'Evening Herald'; Colm McGinty, editor of the 'Sunday World'; Willie Kealy, deputy editor of the 'Sunday Independent'; and Frank Cullen, co-ordinating director of National Newspapers of Ireland.
Also among the mourners were former 'Irish Times' editor Conor Brady and former editor of the 'Irish Press', Tim Pat Coogan. And there were many journalists who had worked in the paper which Aengus had edited with passion and panache since 1984.
From the political world were former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail TD Willie O'Dea, who is also a columnist with the newspaper, and also former government press secretary, Eoghan O Neachtain.
Among the other mourners were RTE's Miriam O'Callaghan, John Bowman, Grainne Seoige and Brendan Balfe.
The short service was celebrated by local priest, Father Denis Kennedy, who was also a friend of Aengus, assisted by parish priest Father Billy Farrell and Brother Ciaran from Glenstal Abbey, with musical accompaniment from noted Celtic singer, Noirin ni Riain.
Fr Kennedy paid tribute to his friend, saying he was "a doer and a man of action", adding that the full church was a reflection "of the number of people whose lives he touched. He did so much good," he said.
He also spoke movingly about how Aengus, although he had been battling cancer for almost a year, had died peacefully and suddenly in the end. "He passed away gently; he was in a chair, beside his bed," Fr Kennedy told the congregation.
The funeral Mass will take place at 11.30am today, and afterwards Aengus Fanning will be taken on his final journey to St Jerome's crematorium in Harold's Cross.