Saturday 24 March 2018

A fitting farewell to Gerry

The late Gerry Murray.
The late Gerry Murray.

Michael Moran

A GENTLE giant of Sligo public life laid to rest.

Hundreds paid an emotional and fitting farewell to long-serving councillor Gerry Murray.

Clr Murray was first elected to Sligo County Council in 1967. He died last week, aged 76, after a brief illness.

The heart of the Coleman country came to a standstill as the funeral of 'the man of the community' took place last Friday in his beloved Gurteen.

St Patrick's Church was packed to overflowing as mourners were joined by politicans from across the political divide to pay their respects.

Under grey skies his removal took place from his home at Calterane for the relatively short journey through the village to the Church. Shops and businesses closed and workers stood in silence as it did so.

The church and surroundings echoed to the sounds of traditional music so loved by Clr Murray.

In his homily, parish priest Fr Joe Caulfield said: "We are experiencing the loss of a great father figure, a true gentleman.

"Gerry has been here for people for 46 years – available, concerned, reassuring, giving of himself."

He told the family that the large gathering at the church and the numbers visiting their home assured them of how cherished he was.

Fr Caulfield said: "Gerry in his personality was low-key, friendly and smiling. He was sincere and reliable. He worked at building relationships.

"He gained the respect and trust of officials, which brought about good outcomes for the people he represented.

"Before the word 'clustering' was coined for a collection of church areas to co-operate, Gerry was diligently serving the people of the cluster of Gurteen, Cloonloo, Killaraght, Monasteraden, Keash and Culfadda."

Gifts brought to the altar reflected the various aspects of his life. These were a hammer, marking his skill as a carpenter, a football, representing his love of sports, a bodhrán, underlining his love of music, a sod of turf, his love of the land and the open fire, his diary, representing his work as a public representative, and a mobile phone, his ability to communicate with people of all ages.

Clr Murray's youngest daughter, Tara, said her father had filled his every role "diligently and to the utmost of his ability."

He had worked tirelessly for the people of South Sligo. She said he had overcome many challenges in his lifetime, but sadly the most recent one proved just too much.

Some lively Sligo traditional sets requested by the family were played by the Gavin family and friends as the funeral made its way out of the church.

Members of Sligo County Council, TDs and senators formed a guard of honour outside. Pupils from Carn NS, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and Eastern Harps GAA Club also formed guards of honour.

Representatives of various groups carried the coffin through the village, with family members bringing it to its final resting place in the local cemetery. There, musician Gregory Daly, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann representatives and friends played a final tribute.

Sligo Champion