Hundreds of mourners gather for final farewell to Lally the legend
HUNDREDS of mourners will gather in Dublin to say a final farewell to legendary actor Mick Lally, who will be laid to rest today.
A staunch atheist who once memorably dismissed religion as "codology", he will be honoured at a special non-religious service at Newlands Cross Crematorium at 2pm.
Leading lights from the theatre and television world are expected to attend the service for the 64-year-old, who died suddenly earlier this week at St James's Hospital.
Last evening Taoiseach Brian Cowen, accompanied by the government press secretary Eoghan O Neachtain, visited Mr Lally's home on Carlisle Street, off the South Circular Road in Dublin, to pay his respects to his family.
Mr Lally is survived by his wife, Peige, and children Saileog, Darach and Maghnus.
In keeping with his strong commitment to human rights and charity work, the family have asked that mourners do not bring flowers but make a donation to the Pakistan Flood Relief Fund.
In an interview earlier this year conducted by RTE's Miriam O'Callaghan and with his 'Glenroe' co-star Mary McEvoy, Mr Lally was outspoken in his criticism of religions saying he had stopped attending Mass or praying some years ago. "I've no heed in any of them. I'd classify myself as an atheist. It's all a load of nonsense, the God-damned lot of it. Codology," he said in his inimitable style.
Asked what he thought happened after death, he replied: "I think we just die. We're just vegetables, decompose, that's it.
"I don't know why it is that mankind elevated itself to this notion of another life, of elevation to another life, a spiritual life," he added.
Meanwhile, several books of condolence were opened in Galway city and county yesterday.
Mr Lally, a native of Tourmakeady in Co Mayo, studied in Galway for many years and also worked as a teacher there before setting up the Druid Theatre Company in the city in 1975, along with his friends Garry Hynes and Marie Mullin.
Dozens of people signed a book of condolence at McHale Vocational School in Tuam, where Mr Lally taught in the early 1970s.
Among them was former independent TD for Galway East, Paddy McHugh, a past pupil of Mr Lally, who said the iconic actor would be missed by all who knew him personally or through his work.
"He was constantly bringing groups to Galway for performances and he instilled a great love of theatre and the arts in everyone he taught," recalled Mr McHugh.
Many people gathered at the Town Hall theatre in Galway city to pay their respects and to sign a second book of condolence. The Druid is currently performing Sean O'Casey's 'The Silver Tassie' at the venue.