Farewell to a columnist and socialite par excellence

IT WAS the kind of funeral Terry Keane would have approved of. An elegant church in leafy south Dublin, ladies with perfectly co-ordinated handbag and shoes, wonderfully refined music and a celebrant who doubles as an expert on Caravaggio.

Now if only they’d served cocktails.

Alas, there were no black-tie waiters and silver trays in the Church of St Joseph in Glasthule yesterday but there were abundant memories of the parties Terry would inspire, host, attend, electrify, scandalise and chronicle before emerging the morning after reinvigorated by copious cups of tea to begin all over again.

Socialite, mother, style guru, granny, reveller, writer — the many varied facets of Terry Keane were recalled with warmth and sorrow as family, friends and colleagues gathered to bid farewell to the 68-year-old who died from cancer last Saturday night.

But one label that attached itself firmly to her in the latter years of her life was not directly mentioned. Nobody said the word “mistress” outright. Nobody name checked Charles Haughey with whom she had a 27-year affair.

Not that the issue could be avoided — but it could be treated — as Terry would have approved, with decorum. Jesuit priest Fr Noel Barber, who shared Terry’s passion for art, told the mourners nobody outside her circle of loved ones really knew the true generous, loving and loyal Terry.

“We all make errors, we all make wrong calls. For the most part, for most of us, they are private. It is when such errors and wrong calls are in the public sphere that great damage can be done to one and all. So with Terry, a serious error of judgment turned a social columnist into a pariah. In living with that she had the admirable and steadfast support of family and friends,” he said.

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin, who was by turn, Terry’s gardener, lodger and son-in-law following his marriage to her daughter Justine, also recalled how the family would gather in response to some latest drama and wonder with knowing smiles: “What’s Terry done now?” “She had an amazing wisdom. Mind you, she didn’t always apply it to her own life.”

He added that the family were heartened by the image of Terry at some heavenly party, probably regaling fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent who also passed away at the weekend.

Terry was mourned by her husband, former chief justice Ronan Keane, daughters Jane, Madeleine and Justine; and grand- children, Natasha, Holly, Ben, Julia and Eppie.

Also in attendance were Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman, journalist Nell McCafferty, developer Joe McGowan, PR consultant Mary Finan, historian Ronan Fanning; businessman Greg McCambridge, fashion promoter Ian Galvin, and many journalists and executives from the newspaper and magazine business.

Terry was later interred in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.


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