Famous faces from the worlds of entertainment, politics and sport join thousands at funeral of Brendan Grace
'Young, old, cultured, uncultured... they all loved Brendan'
His whole career was a love letter to the city of his birth - that love was returned in spades as thousands of people turned out to pay a final to Brendan Grace.
The well-loved words of the Dublin Saunter rose into the air as the remains of the iconic comedian arrived at The Church of St Nicholas of Myra on Francis Street in Dublin’s Liberties, as an emotional welcome, singing along with the Forget Me Not choir.
Amongst those who came to pay their respects were ADC to the President, Col Liam Condon and ADC to the Taoiseach Commandant Caroline Burke.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was present, along with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
From the world of showbiz were Brendan O’Carroll and his wife Jennifer Gibney, Twink, Dickie Rock, Mike Denver, June Rodgers and Richie Kavanagh.
Veteran Comedian Syl Fox and RTE’s Marty Whelan and Marty Morrissey were there as well as Anne Doyle, the well-known former newscaster.
Former Ireland international Niall Quinn was present along with DJ Ronan Collins.
Tom Moran, owner of The Red Cow Inn was also amongst the mourners, who were led by Brendan’s wife, Eileen, his children Amanda, Melanie, Bradley and Brendan Patrick.
His grandchildren James, Patrick and Aiden took part in the funeral mass, bringing up symbols of their beloved grandfather’s life.
They were a microphone to symbolise his lifetime of performance, a book of his jokes entitled “Amusing Grace” and his guitar symbolising his ‘extraordinary’ singing voice.
Music at the funeral mass was arranged by Brendan’s good friend George Hunter and along with the Forget Me Not choir featured Red Hurley, Paddy Cole and Finbar Furey.
Chief Celebrant Fr Brian Darcy quipped that Brendan’s daughter had phoned him up identifying herself as “Bottler’s daughter” and his wife Eileen had said: “I’ve lost two you know - Brendan and Bottler.”
He recalled meeting Brendan and Eileen for the first time almost 47 years ago in the old RTE pre-Montrose day’s studio on Dublin’s Henry street.
It was Stephen’s Day and he had been called in at the last minute to appear on Airs and Graces because he was bound to be sober, he joked.
Alongside him were Brendan and Eileen and from that moment on, he said he never had a “dull, bad or embarrassing” time with them but always a joyful and happy time.
“This is the only sad time I’ve ever met them,” he said.
Fr Brian said he was and is a wonderful friend, noting that Brendan had asked never to be referred to in the past tense.
“All of us recall the generosity and goodness of the man,” he said, adding that everyone has “happy, good beautiful memories of Brendan Grace.”
He spoke of his qualities of laughter, generosity and his ability to lift the gloom of the nation.
Even when he was in pain and was barely able to walk onto the stage, nobody would have known, he said.
“They don’t pay to hear about my ailments, they pay to forget their own,” Brendan used to say, he recalled.
“Protestant, Catholic, young, old, cultured, uncultured, educated or not - Bottler or Brendan - they all loved Brendan,” Fr Brian said.
He described him as a man who had achieved incredible balance in his life.
The funeral mass booklet featured many happy photographs of Brendan and his beloved family and ended with a special note thanking everyone for their presence celebrating his life.
There was also a special thanks to the nurses, doctors and staff at the Galway Clinic who cares for Brendan with “loving dedication.”