Dozens of mourners queued today to pay their respects to former Taoiseach Charles Haughey within minutes of a book of condolence being opened in the heart of his old constituency.
Outside. Workers scrambled to repaint railings and touch up the flagpole where the Tricolour flew at half-mast at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Donnycarney, north Dublin.
This is where the one-time TD for the area will lie in state before being buried on Friday.
Joe Mirolo, 73, from nearby Clontarf was a classmate of Mr Haughey’s at St Joseph’s in Fairview. “We used to meet every year at the past pupils’ annual dinner. This was the first year he didn’t come.
“Everybody held him in tremendously high respect. The people in this parish of Donnycarney – he did a tremendous amount of work for them.
“He was unique. I can find no fault with the man – whatever he did. He was a man of the people.”
Mr Mirolo said his former school friend was a man of foresight and vision. “The people of north County Dublin will miss him,” he said.
Mr Haughey’s remains were removed from his family home at Abbeville, Kinsealy, at around 1.45pm today. They will be taken to the church on Thursday.
Across the way, gardener Joe Walsh, 34, of Donnycarney tended to the lawns of one of Mr Haughey's neighbours.
He recalled, as a child, meeting the former Fianna Fáil TD at the opening of the Rockfield Park, near where he grew up a couple of decades before.
“I was about 10 or 12 at the time. He was Taoiseach. I asked him did he have a fiver on him, he said he didn’t carry money – he probably didn’t need to,” laughed Mr Walsh.
“Around here he is Lord Haughey. He’ll be well remembered for what he did for the people of North County Dublin.
“My father was a builder and all the work that Mr Haughey brought this way put bread on our table.
“No one here cares what he was taking. At the end of the day weren’t they all doing it. At least he gave something back.”
Father Peter Finnerty, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Consolation, where the funeral Mass will be held, said the doors of the church would be open for local people to attend.
Expecting several thousand mourners at the church he said: “I would say it would hold up to nearly 2,000 and I would say we are certain to fill it.
“Can I say now to Mrs Haughey, and Eimear, Connor and Ciaran and Sean, we will give him a good send off here and give him a good Christian burial.”
Chief celebrant will be Mr Haughey’s brother Fr Owen Haughey and the burial will take place in St Fintan’s Cemetery overlooking the sea in Sutton.
“This is in Donnycarney Parish and to anyone in Donnycarney they are most welcome to come along, it is your parish church.”
Jim McGuirk, 60, an exhibition organiser from Rathfarnham, Dublin, made the journey across the city to pay his respects. “He was a genuine man,” he said. “I was friendly with him since the 60s. I didn’t find that austere side to him at all. He helped me out on a number of occasions. I would go and visit him at his home in Kinsealy.”
Mr McGuirk remembered the former Taoiseach as a warm, friendly man who always helped people out. “He always remembered people – when you think of the thousands of people he met, he always remembered everybody.
“I hope his death will revitalise people’s memories of all the good he brought to Ireland through his leadership and vision. Historians giving a balanced view will show that the tribunal side of his life was very small.”
Two garda officers protected the entrance to the Abbeville estate, questioning visitors dropping off supplies or flowers, before allowing them to proceed down the long leafy avenue.
At the gateway, a solitary bouquet of flowers forlornly sat across from a box of empty coffee cups and empty sandwich wrappers discarded by the waiting media.
A middle-aged woman had stopped off in a car earlier to leave the flowers before rushing off again. Along the busy road in one of the few remaining rural areas of Dublin gardaí had placed bright yellow traffic cones to prevent cars from parking outside the grounds of the house.