Hundreds of people attended a special commemorative service held in St Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday afternoon in honour of the 95-year-old painter who died last Wednesday.
Welcoming mourners, Rev Robert Reed, precentor of St Patrick’s observed how Mr le Brocquy had regarded himself as an “open-minded agnostic” who subscribed to no religion.
However, he revealed the artist had requested a Benedictine monk should speak at his requiem service “just in case”.
The monk, Abbot Mark Patrick Hederman of Glenstal Abbey, Murroe, Co Limerick, recalled the correspondence he had enjoyed with Mr le Brocquy about the human spirit.
In other tributes, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney described how the artist’s works marked important moments in the history of Irish art. “He possessed indeflectable dedication, artistic staying power and intellectual stamina,” said Mr Heaney.
Fellow poet Anthony Cronin read his poem, Completion, while one of le Brocquy’s favourite pieces of music, Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, was also played.
The congregation heard that despite being an agnostic, Mr le Brocquy had a long association with St Patrick’s Cathedral which displays a sculpture of the saint by his sister, Melanie, while his mother, Sybil had written an academic text on a former dean of the cathedral, Jonathan Swift.
Chief mourners were the artist’s wife, Anne Madden and the couple’s sons, Pierre and Alexis. He is also survived by his sister, Melanie and Seyre, his daughter from his first marriage.
President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, led a large crowd of friends and admirers who paid their respects to Mr le Brocquy’s family.
Others in attendance were U2 singer Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson; U2 guitarist The Edge and his wife, Morleigh; and film directors John Boorman and Neil Jordan.
Also present at the ceremony were Chief Justice Susan Denham; writer Anthony Cronin; and artist Guggi.
Bono, who was the subject of one of le Brocquy’s famous “Heads” series said yesterday that he would be “forever painting him in some way in my own mind”.
He described his late friend as a great educator who had acted as a mentor to many young artists.