THEY gathered in their hundreds yesterday to celebrate the vibrant life and to mark the passing of a writer whose work touched so many ordinary lives.
On a gloriously sunny evening, mourners waited outside the 153-year-old Church of the Visitation in Fairview, Dublin for the arrival of the hearse bearing the remains of broadcaster, author and journalist Nuala O'Faolain.
Among the writer's many great literary works is her international best selling memoir, Are You Somebody? which was published in 1996.
They answered that question in their hundreds yesterday as the packed the church to pay tribute to the internationally acclaimed author in a short and simple service.
Ms Faolain (68) died last Friday, a month after giving an emotional radio interview to RTE broadcaster and friend Marian Finucane. The show was inundated with emails of support after Nuala revealed how her "life turned black" when she learned of her diagnosis with cancer, six weeks earlier.
"Even if I gained time through the chemotherapy it isn't time I want," she said, "Because as soon as I knew I was going to die soon, the goodness went out of life."
Before she died, surrounded by family and friends, Nuala chose the Franciscan Church of the Visitation -- where the funeral for her late brother Dermot was held.
Yesterday, bunches of wild flowers accompanied her coffin as it was carried into the church for the service led by local parish priest Fr Joe Connick.
Among the huge gathering was journalist Nell McCafferty, who shared Ms O'Faolain's life for 15 years and who described herself and Nuala as "near perfect" travelling companions.
She was joined by a tearful Marian Finucane
Her searching interview with Nuala on April 12 touched the hearts of thousands of listeners and led to a deluge of emails that continued until the writer's death late on Friday night at Dublin's Blackrock Hospice.
Those who gathered to mourn her passing reflected the wide cross-section of people who admired her work.
They included writers Colm Toibin and Anthony Cronin and playwright Peter Sheridan, and the attendance was also swelled by many of Nuala's colleagues from the world of journalism, including Joe Duffy and Vincent Brown.
Dr Maureen Gaffney, chairperson of the National Economic Social Forum, was also in attendance.
Politicians mourning included former Education Minister Gemma Hussey, Labour's Joan Burton and independent TD Finian McGrath.
Chief among the mourners were Nuala's partner John Low-Beer, her five sisters, Grainne, Deirdre, Noirin, Marian and Niamh and brother Terry.
Mr Low-Beer said that before her death, Nuala had specified how she wanted her death notice to appear -- it referred to her brothers Don and Dermot who she was to "rejoin" and offered heartfelt thanks to to all those who had brought her comfort.
As mourners queued patiently in the church aisle to offer their condolences to the family, the sounds of Schubert and other classical music pieces played to the congregation -- another of Nuala's wishes.
Her funeral takes place to Glasnevin crematorium after mass at 12 noon today.
The writer Nuala O' Faolain is dying of cancer. In an emotion-charged interview with Marian Finucane broadcast on RTE yesterday she revealed that she was diagnosed six weeks ago in New York. She said the cancer, which began in her lungs but has now spread to her brain and liver, is incurable. She has turned down the option of chemotherapy, which could help prolong her life