Family, friends and politicians bade a final farewell to PJ Mara yesterday as the former government press secretary was laid to rest in Co Galway.
The 73-year-old, who was also a lobbyist, advisor and political strategist, was buried next to his late wife Breda at Mount Cross Cemetery in Kinvara.
Mr Mara, who was well known for his work as advisor to former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, had been suffering from a long illness before he passed away at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin on Friday. He had been in hospital since late last year and was receiving treatment for cancer.
A huge crowd of mourners packed St Mary’s Church on Dublin’s Haddington Road on Saturday for requiem mass, chief among them Mr Mara’s partner Sheila Tormey and his children John and Elena.
Speaking at the mass, parish priest Patrick Claffey said Mr Mara has been more than a parishioner to him, he had been a friend.
He also revealed Mr Mara had asked that there be no eulogy at his funeral, as he didn’t want any “razzmatazz” or “spin” about the ceremony.
Fr Claffey was joined by celebrants Fr Tom Stack, Fr Enda McDonagh and Fr Dermod McCarthy while readings were conducted by Mr Mara’s brother-in-law, Declan Brogan, and chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Maurice Manning.
Prayers were read by former presidential advisor Eileen Gleeson, Fianna Fáil secretary general Seán Dorgan and businessman Denis O’Brien who also helped carry the coffin into the church.
Others in attendance included Mr Haughey’s widow Maureen and children Sean, Conor and Eimear, along with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and former taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern.
Mr Cowen said Mr Mara’s “engaging personality” meant even opposing politicians held him in high regard.
Mr Ahern, who made Mr Mara his director of elections in 1997, 2002 and 2007, said he had known the advisor for more than 45 years, hailing him a “great friend” and a “great colleague”.
“When Haughey was in and out of power, PJ was there at his side, always. He was extraordinary when the pressure came on,” he said.
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