'They won't stop me singing till they put me in the ground' - Music and sports stars bid sad farewell to The Dubliners' Eamonn Campbell
It was a fitting send-off for a giant in the music industry, as family and friends today marked the passing of a former member of The Dubliners, Eamonn Campbell.
The much-loved musician passed away just over a week ago, "doing what he loved best" touring in Holland.
His career started 50 years ago in his home town of Drogheda, Co Louth, and some well-known faces from the music industry were on hand today to pay their respects at the funeral mass at St Agnes' Church in Crumlin Village, and many had packed their instruments.
Dublin singer Imelda May sang a stunning version of "The Rare Ould Times" during communion, with Jimmy Smyth accompanying her on guitar, Gerry O'Connor on the fiddle, and Paul Watchorn also singing on the vocals.
In latter years, Mr Campbell (70) had continued to tour and play concerts with The Dublin Legends, and his band-mates were all present today to say their sad good-bye. The Dubliners had stopped touring following the death of Barney McKenna.
A guitar was placed in front of the altar at the beginning of the ceremony. The Sam Maguire Cup, a bunch of lillies and a photo adorned the wicker coffin. The congregation heard that despite being a Louth man, Mr Campbell was a huge Dubs fan, and also a follower of the Irish soccer team.
Fr John Deasy, who celebrated mass today, with Fr Brian D'arcy also on the altar, recalled that "Eamonn got his first guitar when he was 11.
"He brought joy to so many people in Ireland and all over the world. He was devoted to his family, his children and grandchildren."
Fr Deasy said that "Ireland was poorer for the death of Eamonn." He said that he was a man of faith, and liked to drop into the church and light a candle.
"He has gone to join the choirs of angels in heaven. He will be playing the mandolin and the guitar. We want to say thank you. We loved him," said Fr Deasy.
Prayers were said at the mass for the doctors and nurses who made him so comfortable when he became ill abroad, as well as the medics who had looked after him in Ireland in his lifetime.
Later on, there wasn't a dry eye when Imelda May sang again later at the end of the mass as the audience clapped to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
In a moving tribute, his daughter Ciara said her dad was born in 1946. "His life took a major turn at the age of ten, when listening to Radio Luxembourg and he heard Elvis Presley."
"At the ripe old age of 11, he got his first guitar and taught himself how to play."
"Dad sat the Leaving Cert with the intention of becoming an accountant." But given his talent, it was a career in music beckoned and he turned professional in 1964.
"His favourite saying was 'They won't stop me singing till they put me in the ground," she said.
He was an only child himself, but made up for it with his own big family, she said, and his passion was cooking.
She said that in the days since his death, they have heard so many stories of his kindness and generosity, which have flooded in.
He is survived by his wife Noreen, and children Paddy, Eamon (Jacko), Franky, Emma-Jane, Niamh and Ciara.