Friday 22 November 2019

'A lady of justice who met each one of us as we are'

Maeve Hillery, wife of late President Patrick Hillery, laid to rest today

Dr Maeve Hillery
Dr Maeve Hillery

Lise Hand

The funeral of Maeve Hillery, wife of the late President Patrick Hillery, took place in Dublin today.

Among the mourners were President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, also former Irish Presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson and former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

Dr Hillery passed away peacefully at her home the weekend at the age of 91.

Her husband, who died in 2008,  was the sixth president of Ireland, from 1976 to 1990, having previously served as Ireland’s first European commissioner and in a number of cabinet posts in Fianna Fail-led governments, including minister for education and minister for foreign affairs.

President Patrick Hillery with his wife Maeve.
President Patrick Hillery with his wife Maeve.

The couple married in 1955, having met while studying in UCD.

The chief mourners at the funeral mass in St Fintan's Church in Sutton were her son John, daughter-in-law Carolyn, sister Angela, brother-in-law David and four grandchildren. She is predeceased by her daughter Vivienne.

Read more: Warm tributes to widow of President Hillery

Paying tribute to Maeve Hillery, a retired doctor, chief celebrant Father Des Hillery described her as "a lady of justice who met each one of us as we are".

The eulogy was delivered by Sarah Hillery who spoke of her grandmother's love of travel, and how she never forgot her Galway roots.

Also among the mourners were Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and TDs Timmy Dooley and Dara Calleary, also Fianna Fail senators Averil Power and Mary White, Fianna Fail general secretary Sean Dorgan, former Fianna Fail ministers Michael Woods and Mary Hanafin and former Dublin Lord Mayor Ben Briscoe.

Also in the congregation was Clare TD Michael McNamara - the Hillerys spent much time in their house in Spanish Point in West Clare - also former broadcaster Micheal O'Muircheartaigh, and Kathleen Watkins.

Read more: Dr Maeve Hillery, wife of former President Patrick Hillery, dies aged 91

Speaking after the mass, Mrs McAleese hailed Dr Hillery as "elegant Ireland personified - when I was a youngster, I looked up to her".

In a statement following the announcement of Meave Hillery's death, President Higgins said, "Sabina and I have fond memories of our last meeting with Dr Hillery when she joined us here at Áras an Uachtaráin with her family to commemorate 75 years of the presidency in 2013. She contributed greatly to the presidency of Dr Patrick Hillery, supporting her husband with integrity and dignity throughout his two terms as President.

As an anaesthetist she was recognised as a dedicated and committed professional and as a mother and friend she was known for her warmth, strength of character and generosity."

After the funeral mass, Dr Hillery was buried in St Fintan's cemetery.

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