Final respects paid to Jackie

Even in death, Jackie Healy-Rae looked like a man on the campaign trail.

Final respects paid to Jackie

That essential tartan cap, an election sticker seeking a number one vote was on his left lapel and there, too, was a well-worn mobile phone.

A baby bottle of Canadian Club, a prayer card with a photo of Pope Francis, copies of books published about him, and his hurley from the 1950s during which he won Kerry county championships with his beloved Kilgarvan were also in the coffin.

A large picture of the 83-year-old politician sat on a window sill of the family public house in the south Kerry village, where he was waked. It showed him smiling broadly, his jacket slung over his shoulder — a man in election mode.

Thousands of mourners filed past the body of the flamboyant politician during the weekend, with the extent of the turnout — said to be one of the biggest ever funeral gatherings in the county.

One of his four sons, Danny, an Independent member of Kerry County Council, said they were “totally amazed’’ that more than 5,000 people came to pay their respects.

A shuttle bus service was provided for those parking outside the village.

People came for about six hours on Saturday and started queuing 90 minutes before the appointed time of 4pm yesterday. At one point, the queue stretched for about 500m along the street, with people standing three and four deep.

“I suppose we should have expected this as he touched so many people throughout his life — he was involved in so many different things as well as politics — Irish music, farming, auctioneering for a short time and sport, of course,’’ said an emotional Danny Healy-Rae.

Political figures included constituency rival and former Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, former Tánaiste and Labour party leader Dick Spring, Cork Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly, former Kerry Fianna Fáil TD Tom McEllistrim, former West Cork Fine Gael TD Paddy Sheehan, Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, former Fianna Fáil Cork TD Noel O’Flynn and Independent Kerry TD Tom Fleming.

Deputy Fleming said the deputy was underrated.

“He had attributes above the normal. His feet were firmly on the ground and his strong point was his natural way of relating to people. And, of course, he had an enormous workrate — no holidays and no days off,’’ the deputy added.

Small farmer and supporter Jim Breen, from Sneem, Co Kerry, described him as a very normal, down-to-earth man and who was always approachable.

“I think he was one of the best TDs ever to hit Dáil Éireann. There should be six or eight like him in every county,’’ said Mr Breen.

His humble beginnings on a small farm in the foothills of Mangerton mountain were also recalled.

“My father used to say that he came down that road in donkey and cart with his mother and if the worst happened, he could go back up there again,’’ related Danny Healy-Rae.

The remains were removed to St Patrick’s Church, Kilgarvan, last night, and were received by Fr Con Buckley. The funeral Mass will be at 12 noon today, with burial afterwards in the local cemetery.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.