'The Master Piper is dead but his dream lives on' - Presidents, musicians and friends pay tribute to Liam O'Flynn
The funeral of one of Ireland’s most loved musicians, piper Liam O’Flynn, heard he’d lived a life as “a magical person” who lit up a room as gifted a nation with melodies to entrance generations.
Liam, 72, who had bravely fought cancer for around 18 years, had “returned home” for the final time, his touching requiem Mass heard today.
Hundreds attended St Brigid's Church in Kill, Co Kildare, Liam’s birthplace, to say their final farewell to a man who’d won a place in the heart of the Traditional music scene as a young man due to his unfathomable passion for music.
President Michael D Higgins, former members of the Trad group Planxty and other musicians, paid their respects while Christy Moore sang two moving tracks in Liam’s memory.
Musician and Liam’s friend, Steve Cooney, who also played during the funeral, read a touching poem, ‘God’s choice,’ penned in the piper’s honour.
Former president, Mary McAleese wrote a touching tribute to pay her respects to one of the nation’s most loved and talented.
Ms McAleese’s tribute read: “The Master Piper is dead. Long live his memory and his music. Somewhere today a child with a gift for music, will hear Liam’s pipes soar elegantly, emotionally, above the world’s symphony orchestras and in that childish heart will form a dream.
“If we are very lucky it will be the same dream that formed in Liam Og’s heart and soul when he was that youngster. He dreamt of becoming both servant and master of the pipes and that he surely did… the Master Piper is dead but his dream lives on.”
Liam’s nephew played the whistle, after he fondly remembered a man who somehow remained down-to-earth while possessing a gift we may never see the likes of again.
He told the service he’d promised to play a song with his uncle when he returned from abroad. However, as he hadn’t gained that chance, the funeral was now to be his stage.
Throughout the Mass, as musicians transformed what could so easily have been a lamentable occasion, into one of celebration, it became apparent Liam’s last wish had been to be remembered through his first love, music.
Though throughout his life he’d adored his family above all as friend and fellow musician, fiddler Paddy Glackin, explained.
He told mourners how Liam had always yearned to return home more than anything after trips away to his beloved wife, Jane.
“Liam was a magical person,” Paddy said. “I first encountered that magic in 1957. He was very young at the time.”
Liam is survived by Jane, his sister Maureen and brothers in law, sisters in law, nieces and nephews.
Donations were taken at the funeral for the Irish Cancer Society and Pipers.ie, to help the next generation of pipers to carve their own paths in memory of one of the greats.