Dalkey remembers Binchy's 'infectious personality'

The life, love, talent and generosity of acclaimed best-selling novelist Maeve Binchy have been remembered at her funeral.

The life, love, talent and generosity of acclaimed best-selling novelist Maeve Binchy have been remembered at her funeral.

The worlds of the arts, journalism and politics united to pay tribute to Ireland's national treasure, who died on Monday.

Her husband, writer Gordon Snell, brother William and sister Joan led hundreds of mourners including Oscar-winning actress Brenda Fricker, who starred in the screen versions of some of Binchy's books.

Father William Stuart told the congregation in her native Dalkey in south Dublin each had their own memory of the 72-year-old storyteller.

"There isn't a person here or beyond here who cannot recall her infectious personality," he said in his homily.

"A river of ink has been used this week to remember her."

Laughter filled the Church of the Assumption as the priest recalled how Binchy once made a generous contribution to the church - but warned it could be spent on anything except statues or holy pictures.

Fr Stuart said Binchy had not been a religious person in a traditional sense, and died not having come to know God.

But he suspected that once she had got her bearings in heaven, she began to talk to the Almighty.

"And she's still talking to the Almighty, and she'll go on talking to the Almighty for a very long time," he joked.

"Lord you called her, you can listen to her," he added, to a loud applause.

The service was short and simple, following Binchy's own final wishes.

The only flowers were a large arrangement of roses on her coffin called Rosa Gordon Snell, which she had named after her 'beloved' as a gift.

Her neighbour, the 'Father Ted' actor Frank Kelly, read the psalm, while her brother and their cousin, actress Kate Binchy, each recited a reading.

Binchy's love of Irish traditional music was also celebrated, with moving pieces performed by Liam O'Flynn, Shaun Davey, Rita Connolly and Paddy Glackin. They included her Desert Island Discs favourite, O'Flynn's 'The Brendan Theme'.

Actor Eamon Morrissey, author Claudia Carroll, broadcasters Pat Kenny and Vincent Browne, and journalist Nell McCafferty were among the hundreds packed in to the service.

The President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were both represented by their aides-de-camp.

As Binchy's hearse left the churchyard, mourners who had listened outside in the rain formed a guard of honour and burst into spontaneous applause.

The novelist, who died peacefully in hospital after a short illness, will be cremated at a private ceremony for family and close friends.

Born in Dalkey, Binchy studied at University College Dublin before starting her career as a teacher and became a journalist at the Irish Times.

While living in London she began writing collections of short stories and went on to pen 16 novels which sold more than 40 million books worldwide.

Despite announcing her retirement in 2000, Binchy continued writing and her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published in 2010.

Several of Binchy's works were adapted for screen, including 'Circle Of Friends', 'The Lilac Bus' and 'Tara Road'.

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