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Laid to rest in spot he'd come to love

There was a covering of snow on the ground last Christmas when Brian Lenihan drove to the small, beautiful St David's Church, Kilsallaghan, in north Co Dublin, almost a year to the day after he had been diagnosed with cancer.

He was still the Finance Minister at the time, and he knew he was dying.

Mr Lenihan had only become familiar with St David's after a redrawing of boundaries had fortuitously brought the Church of Ireland place of worship into his constituency in time for the 2007 election.

"Every time he went there, he would talk to me about it afterwards. He used to say, 'I love that place'," former senator Joe O'Toole, who lives near Kilsallaghan, said last week.

It is easy to see why. Picture-perfect, in such a tranquil setting surrounded by high trees and fulsome hedgerows, the church serves a small Church of Ireland community in the area.

There are, perhaps, 100 graves in the grounds, most of them of Protestant, but also several Catholic, stretching back to Famine times.

Lenihan's visit, last December, had a poignant undertone, which spoke volumes as to the inner peace of the man; clearly he had come to terms with his own mortality.

His visit was to personally choose the spot where he would be interred six months later, on a hillock with fine views sweeping across the fertile, farming countryside of north Dublin.

As a local politician, every year Lenihan had come to St David's for the harvest festival and again for the annual carol service at Christmas.

It was to prove the beginning of something special.

"I was a little surprised when I first head he had chosen to be buried there, and then I wasn't, not when I recalled our conversations, of how he would always say to me that he had come to love it there," said Mr O'Toole.

Sunday Independent