TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has paid an emotional tribute to his late mother, whom he said he was "incredibly privileged" to have had with him for so long. He also said he understood the sense of loss of families who have been bereaved.
Eithne Kenny died last month aged 93. She passed away in Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar surrounded by her family.
In a round table briefing for political correspondents this weekend, Mr Kenny was asked about the difficulty of losing his mother so close to the Budget and when the European crisis was at its height.
He said: "It's not easy personally. I had the privilege of having a mother for all of my lifetime. It is a privilege. I see so many tragedies where so many young mothers are taken away. And that is unbearable for those families, so it is a privilege to have had someone for so long."
Wiping away a tear, Mr Kenny said it would have been his mother's wish for him to keep going and get the job done, no matter how difficult it may have been for him.
"You have only got one mother. So everyone, no matter what age, becomes attached. But that's what she would have wanted me to do. Get on with the job. She would say we are all on the same conveyer belt, at some point; politics is a privilege and get on and do it," Mr Kenny said.
He also spoke of how it felt "very surreal" to be addressing the Fine Gael party presidential dinner at a Dublin hotel on the night of her death, when the party was enjoying its greatest ever electoral success.
"I have to say, to stand up in the Burlington at the presidential dinner and surreal attitude of people voicing their excitement that the party is in government for the first time in quite a number of years, the largest party in the country, unprecedented success for the party and yet be tinged with that reality."
But he said his mother enjoyed a long and full life and he referred to her strong faith: "She lived a long and fruitful life, she was very devout to her beliefs and it was a privilege to have had her for so long."
He also said he understood the daily sense of loss felt by those whose parents and family members have passed on. "So I understand the lump in the throat that goes through families every day."
Mr Kenny said he attended the funeral of Ballina woman Sandra Herbert and her teenage daughter Rachel, who died tragically earlier this month and how the sight of the two bodies laid out helped him put things in perspective.
"I attended that funeral in Ballina of Mrs Herbert, who was drowned with her 14-year-old daughter and to see those two beautiful people laid out, puts things in perspective."