Mourners pay tribute to two political figures

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin were among hundreds of mourners who gathered yesterday to pay tribute at the funeral of former minister Noel Davern, who died suddenly at the weekend.

Mourners pay tribute to two political figures

The small country church on the hillside at Powerstown, outside Clonmel, was packed for the funeral Mass, while many more gathered outside in the driving wind and rain and heard tributes to the veteran politician who spent 32 years in the Dáil, served as education minister under Charles Haughey, and as minister of state for agriculture under Bertie Ahern.

Retired minister Michael Smith, who was first elected to the Dáil at the same time as Noel Davern, delivered a graveside oration in which he described the former TD, minister, MEP, and councillor as a man with a “rapport with people which he enjoyed and they enjoyed”, and as someone who loved to help people.

“He understood their problems, the kind of problem that sections of the media would say are of no consequence, the kind of problem that people might sometimes say don’t make any difference but, as far as Noel was concerned, there was somebody somewhere who had that problem and he wanted to see it solved.”

During the Mass, Mr Davern’s son Don thanked all who came to the funeral and to the family home on Tuesday. “I can’t help but think, up there he’s looking down and he knows who’s not here,” he said to laughter from the congregation. “He’s watching.”

Mourners who offered their condolences to Mr Davern’s widow Ann-Marie, daughter Davina, and sons Marc and Don, included Fianna Fáil leaders past and present Brian Cowen and Micheál Martin; former ministers Ray Burke, Ned O’Keeffe, Gerry Collins, Brendan Daly, Desmond O’Malley, and Mary Hanafin.

Meanwhile, in Tralee, the daughter of an ex-Fianna Fáil TD who resigned from the party 13 years ago told mourners at his funeral, yesterday, he loved the party till the end.

Hundreds of people turned out to pay their final respects to Denis Foley, 79, who had been a councillor, deputy, and senator over a long political career, in Kerry North, that began in 1979 and continued until 2002, when he was an Independent TD and did not seek re-election.

Among the mourners were former Cabinet minister Éamon Ó Cuív and former FF TDs Thomas McEllistrim, Donal Moynihan, and Denis Cregan

Sporting personalities included former Kerry footballer Darragh Ó Sé.

Eight priests concelebrated the funeral Mass in St John’s Church and among the gifts handed up to symbolise the late Mr Foley’s life was a showband CD to mark his days as a band and ballroom promoter in the 1960s and ’70s.

Chief concelebrant Fr Sean Hanafin recalled Mr Foley’s early career as a rent and rates collector in Tralee, during which time he became a confidante and advocate of the people.

Fr Hanafin said he had deep faith, which sustained him throughout this life.

In a eulogy, councillor Norma Foley said she had a "most extraordinary father" who was also a loving husband and family man who never looked for anything for himself.

"He never refused us anything, especially his daughters, and used to say that my mother was the best woman in the world," she said.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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