At his funeral Mass in St Joseph’s Church in Glasthule, Co Dublin, a large congregation, including leading Irish media figures, heard their late colleague described as a man whose motto was “the truth must be told”.
Local priest Fr Denis Kennedy described his late friend as a strong man whose death had devastated his family.
The cleric said Mr Fanning would be remembered for “the joy he brought into the lives of so many people and the good he did through his work”.
However, Fr Kennedy smiled that he was “not going to canonise” him.
In his homily, the priest joked that as a Kerryman, Mr Fanning had not achieved his potential as a footballer. He also said Aengus had “died with his boots on” and praised him for the courage he had shown in exposing corruption, cover-ups and injustices in Irish society. “For this, Ireland owes him a deep debt of gratitude,” remarked Fr Kennedy.
Speeches by his wife Anne, sons Evan and Dion and family friend Charles Lysaght, which documented Mr Fanning’s colourful life, were punctuated with laughter and tears among the large crowd of mourners.
Mr Lysaght noted how Mr Fanning’s editorial style had successfully combined “racy, almost tabloid journalism with highbrow features” while also recalling his love of cricket, history and jazz music.
Mr Fanning’s wife Anne Harris, the Sunday Independent’s deputy editor, said her husband only ever had one editorial agenda — “never to give comfort to terrorists”.
Mr Fanning, 69, originally from Tralee, died last Tuesday at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Dublin after being diagnosed with lung cancer last year.
Chief mourners were his second wife Anne, sons Dion, Evan and Stephen, step-daughters Constance and Nancy and brothers Rio, Patrick and Connell. Mr Fanning’s first wife Mary was remembered during Prayers of the Faithful.
The President and Taoiseach were represented, while Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lt Col Seán McCann was in attendance, as were many media figures.