One of Ireland’s best-known sports broadcasters was today remembered as an enthusiastic and articulate reporter gifted with a marvellous memory and unique voice.
Hundreds of family and friends paid their respects to Colm Murray, who died on Monday after a three-year battle against motor neurone disease.
His grieving widow Ann, daughters Patricia and Kate and sister Mary were joined by scores of familiar faces from the world of broadcasting, politics and sports.
Murray, 61, was diagnosed with the fatal neurological disorder in March 2010.
Chief celebrant Fr Jimmy Murray said the commentator had touched so many lives in so many ways and praised his extraordinary television documentary, where he “gave a courageous insight in to life with one of the cruellest and destructive conditions”.
“His determination to raise awareness of this little known but terrible illness touched the lives of all who saw that programme,” he told a packed St Gabriel’s Church in Dollymount, north Dublin.
Last year Murray – best known for his horse racing coverage – was recognised with a People of the Year Award for his work in highlighting the debilitating disease.
Fr Murray, a close family friend who taught the broadcaster in the Carmelite College in Murray’s home town of Moate, Co Westmeath, revealed the sports journalist learned his love of racing from his father and never lost touch with his roots.
Even when he could no longer speak, the former commentator maintained his lovely smile and razor sharp mind, he said.
“He will be remembered as a broadcaster who loved his work and those people from the racing world whom he respected and admired and who in turn have shown in no small way their love and respect for him,” he continued.
“Enthusiastic, articulate and gifted with a marvellous memory, his unique voice captures the occasion.
“A great wordsmith, he knew how to set the scene and the atmosphere and the names of trainers, owners, jockeys and horses rolled off his tongue.”
In a moving eulogy Kate told mourners that her father always knew the importance of friendship and never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
“Our dad loved people, he loved meeting people and talking to people at any opportunity he could,” she said tearfully.
“Sometimes the journey from the car to the race track could be absolutely endless.
“But that was our dad.
“While he had a certain talent for exasperating people at times, to Patricia and myself he really was the best dad in the world.”
She then introduced his final wish, for Leonard Cohen’s Come Healing to be performed at the end of the Mass.
An eerie silence had earlier fallen over the church yard as Murray’s remains arrived moments before noon.
Missing from the congregation were many of Murray’s respected friends and fans from the horse racing world, most of whom are attending the week long Galway Races and Goodwood race meeting in the UK.
President Michael D Higgins cut short his break in Galway to attend the funeral along with former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Liam Cosgrave and scores of Murray’s colleagues from the news and sports departments at RTE, including Marty Morrison, Jimmy Magee and Miriam O’Callaghan.
Noel Curran, director-general of RTE, arrived with radio presenter Joe Duffy, while former Fianna Fail sports minister John O’Donoghue, party leader Micheal Martin, Irish rugby international Brian O’Driscoll and snooker player Ken Doherty were among the familiar faces in the crowd.
Friends and family delivered readings and prayers of the faithful, including former head of news Ed Mulhall, cousins Cathal Murray and Regina Rawle and daughter Patricia, who prayed for the family of her aunt Cathy who also died recently.
The congregation heard Murray loved his job, friends and colleagues at the State broadcaster, which he joined in October 1978 as a continuity announcer.
He went on to become one of the station’s best-known sports broadcasters and throughout his career, he covered many national and international events, including the Cheltenham Festival, the Olympics and the Paralympics.
However, he regarded the highlight of his career as covering Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland soccer campaign in the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Murray was buried at St. Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton, with mourners invited to later celebrate his life with his family at a Dublin golf club.
“He really would want that, he would love it,” Kate added.