Thousands pay last respects to FitzGerald

THOUSANDS of mourners paid their last respects to former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald as they lined the route to his final resting place.

The public packed roadsides and overhead bridges as his coffin was taken from the Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, to be buried next to his beloved wife Joan in Shanganagh Cemetery, Shankill, Co Dublin, following a state funeral.

Spontaneous applause often greeted the cortege following a sombre ceremony in which his three children and 10 grandchildren played a prominent role, along with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former president Mary Robinson.

His long-standing friend Fr Enda McDonagh presided over the funeral Mass, noting that Dr FitzGerald had lived just long enough to see a new era open in his lifelong bid for improved Anglo-Irish relations.

“By some miracle of insight he woke up in his final agony, in a way, to see the Queen and President on the television on Tuesday night, 36 hours or so before he died. It was the culmination of what he had, for so long, strove. We are grateful for that,” Fr McDonagh said.

But Dr FitzGerald’s endearing quirkiness also shone through during the ceremony, alongside his statesmanship. His son Mark said: “On Easter Sunday he told some of the younger grand-daughters when they asked him why their grandmother Joan had a fear of flying that it possibly had something to do with the fact that he used to read her the near-miss reports from Aer Lingus in bed.”

Laughter rang out in the church.

Dr FitzGerald’s granddaughters Reachbha and Laoise sang throughout the service, while Mr Kenny performed a reading and Ms Robinson was among those who recited the Prayers of the Faithful.

Among the mourners were five former taoisigh: Liam Cosgrave, Albert Reynolds, John Bruton, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. President Mary McAleese also attended.

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