BOB GELDOF had a lot to say about his dad at his funeral Mass yesterday, not just because he had lived such a long life.
But before he began his 30-minute tribute to his dad, Bob snr, at St Joseph’s Church, Glasthule, Dublin, he thanked his two sisters, Cleo and Lynn for “making his life a great joy”.
He said his father, who was aged 96 when he died in Dublin last week, lived life with gusto and was not afraid of death.
“He was absolutely secure in the knowledge that he was going to meet the towering exuberant love of his life — my mum.”
Bob’s mother, Eve, died of a brain haemorrhage 50 years ago after complaining of a headache, leaving his father to bring up three young children by himself.
Bob said he was with his father when he died peacefully in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin last Thursday and that was a great comfort to him.
It was mainly friends and neighbours who packed the large church.
Chief celebrant, Fr Gerry Byrne, a friend of Bob snr, said it was arranged that the Mass had been timed to start as the church bells rang for the midday Angelus prayer, a time of the day that Bob enjoyed.
U2’s Bono got on well with Bob snr and was a regular visitor to his home but was unable to be present for the funeral. A spray of white lilies and roses from Bono and his wife Ali carried this message: “Road warrior to the end and beyond.”
Bob said his father’s sister, Fifi, who would celebrate her 102nd birthday next month, has not been told of her brother’s death. The family decided to break the news gently to her as they were very close.
“That’s important because every time he called to see her she described him as the most handsome man in Dublin,” said Bob.
Bob also recalled how his dad and his brother, Sonny, as teenagers, tried to defend two schoolboys attending Blackrock College who ran away from the school in their pyjamas to escape a brutal existence but were caught, brought back and beaten up.
His dad and brother were sent to a school in France where students made fun of their surname because it sounded similar to a cow in French. “When this was realised in school and the priest called out his (Bob snr) name my father strode up and threatened him with a fistful of fives. He was not about to ‘cow’ to anyone or any circumstance or life itself.”
Bob said his father met his mother when working as a chef in Cork. She was a “glamour girl” working in a cinema. They started going out together when he won a boxing match with her fiance.
Bob said his father later went into business with Sonny.
Bob said his father was a generous man and was surprised when a man, an utter stranger to the family, called to pay tribute to him shortly after his death.
The man, who was once homeless, stayed the night in his car and his father caught him in the vehicle the next morning.
Bob snr invited the man in for a cup of tea and a bath and kept in touch with him afterwards.
“We never heard that story but it is the best about my dad,” said Bob.
Bob read out his dad’s favourite poem — The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert Service, receiving applause at the end.
He said the tattoo on the arm of his daughter, Pixie, best summed up what he was feeling. The tattoo in Gothic script reads: ‘What will survive of us is love’ and it is the last line of Philip Larkin’s poem An Arundel Tomb.
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