Mourners pay tribute to Joe Dolan

More than 2,000 mourners have paid their respects to showband legend Joe Dolan who was buried today in his native town.

More than 2,000 mourners have paid their respects to showband legend Joe Dolan who was buried today in his native town.

Leading figures in the entertainment industry packed in to the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, for the Requiem Mass.

Hundreds of dedicated fans and members of the singer’s local community also stood side by side outside in the rain.

Famous faces in the congregation included singers Dana, Daniel O’Donnell, Ronny Drew, Dickie Rock, Red Hurley, Ronan Keating and his wife Yvonne and musician Paddy Cole.

Comedians Brendan Grace and Frank Carson attended, alongside former snooker player Denis Taylor and ex Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who hired the young Dolan and his band, The Drifters, when he ran ballrooms in the midlands in the late 1950s and 1960s.

President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern were both represented by their aides-de-camp.

Broadcaster and friend Fr Brian Darcy paid tribute to the 68-year-old who died on St Stephen’s Day after falling ill on Christmas night.

In a homily, he told mourners how the performer secretly gave tens of thousands of euro to the poor during his career.

“For Joe the most loyal group that he had were his fans for 45, maybe 47 years,” he said.

“And Joe loved those fans and knew them personally and entertained them when they needed to be entertained, lifted their burden when that was needed, and they loved and appreciated Joe.

“They enjoyed him and then they gave him his privacy when he needed it.”

As Mr Dolan’s body was removed from the Cathedral for the journey to Walshestown Cemetery, fans – wearing the singer’s trademark white tie and holding scarfs bearing his picture – formed a guard of honour.

Yesterday thousands of people also gathered to pay their respects at Gilsenan’s Funeral Home where he lay in repose and sign the book of condolences in the foyer of the County Buildings.

Born in Mullingar, Mr Dolan’s first job was with the local newspaper, the Westmeath Examiner, but after completing his apprenticeship he let his passion for music take over.

Throughout the showband era of the 1960s and ’70s as he entertained fans across Europe and as far afield as Argentina and Brazil.

He also earned fame for being the first western pop singer to play in Moscow at the height of the Cold War in 1978.

His biggest hit, 'Make Me An Island', reached number one in 14 other countries.

The song 'Such A Good Looking Woman' remained a regular feature on Irish radio plugging his gigs until his recent illness.

Mr Dolan was rushed to the Mater Private Hospital, Dublin, when he became ill at his home in Foxrock on Christmas night.

He remained in a critical condition until he died just after 3pm on Wednesday following a brain haemorrhage.

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