It was the final playlist of the man know affectionately to his friends as The Dude.
Tony Fenton had choreographed his funeral from start to finish and the hundreds who attended the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook yesterday were treated to a string of the DJ’s favourite hits, ending with his own personal number one — Say A Little Prayer, the Burt Bacharach song made famous by Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick.
The great and the good of the broadcasting world along with some music megastars turned out to say their final goodbyes in what was an appropriately show-biz send-off.
Ian Dempsey and Mario Rosenstock at the funeral of Tony Fenton
Chief among the mourners was the love of Tony’s life, Sinead Lynch, alongside Tony’s siblings Paul, Ann, Colm and Kevin, as well as nieces and nephews.
The music was played mostly by singer Paul Harrington, a good friend of Tony’s, but U2 also chimed in with an acoustic version of Ordinary Love, the Oscar-nominated song from the film Mandela.
U2 at the funeral of Tony Fenton.
Their performance, the first since Bono injured himself in a bike crash in the US, brought huge applause, and then laughter when Fr Brendan Kealy, mimicking his deceased friend’s drawl, said Tony, would have given the band “a nod of respect”.
Fr Kealy, from St Michael’s Church, Athy, described Tony as the “voice of a generation”.
A friend of the DJ before he himself became a priest, Fr Kealy described him as “the king of the one-liners”.
“Talking about Tony brings a smile to all of our faces. Tony would ring up on Monday and say, ‘hey dude, what are you doing next Friday. A few of us are going to Spain for the weekend’.”
Comedian and broadcaster Mario Rosenstock said he didn’t think “anybody else in the world could have organised the biggest band in the world to play at his funeral”.
“Fun, fun, fun are the words I think of when I think of Tony. He wanted everybody to have fun and he wanted to have fun himself. Only Tony Fenton could organise his funeral the day before the national public holiday. We can never duplicate The Dude,” he said.
Friends brought up symbols of Tony’s life: a compass to represent his passion for sailing, a cook book, and a microphone representing his great love of radio.
His much cherished letter from Chelsea football boss Jose Mourinho was brought up by his nephew Jordan Fagan.
Singers Andrea Corr and Mary Black were also there to pay their respects, as well as Today FM owner Denis O’Brien, promoters Peter Aiken and John Reynolds, and fellow broadcasters Ray D’Arcy, Ian Dempsey, Larry Gogan, Dave Fanning and Jenny Greene, chef Derry Clarke and Morah Ryan, widow of Gerry.
Tony was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010. Fr Kealy said he had “fought the good fight” against his illness.
Paul Fagan told the congregation his brother (Tony Fenton was born Tony Fagan) was proudest of being inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame. He died aged 53.
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