Actors, writers and friends attend funeral of 'rare gentleman'

At the funeral yesterday of Irish Times film correspondent Michael Dwyer in the Church of the Holy Name, Ranelagh, Dublin, actor Daniel Day Lewis

At the funeral yesterday of Irish Times film correspondent Michael Dwyer in the Church of the Holy Name, Ranelagh, Dublin, actor Daniel Day Lewis

Wed, Jan 6, 2010, 00:00

“HE WAS a rare man, a gentleman,” is how actor Daniel Day Lewis began his tribute to Irish Timesfilm correspondent Michael Dwyer, whose funeral took place at the Church of the Holy Name in Ranelagh, Dublin, yesterday.

Speaking to a packed church of relatives, friends, colleagues and members of Ireland’s film and arts community, Day Lewis described Dwyer, whom he had known for more than 20 years, as “gentle, modest and kind” and praised his enthusiasm for film and his ability to remain compassionate even in criticism. “He was never cruel, ever, nor was he self-serving.”

Day Lewis also made reference in his eulogy to Dwyer’s strong connection with the Dublin Film Festival, which the film correspondent had co-founded and which went on to become the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

“I have nothing against whiskey, but I would love to think that from now on that festival could be renamed after him,” he said.

Celebrant Fr Bernard Kennedy of Beechwood Avenue parish welcomed Dwyer’s partner of 24 years, RTÉ newsreader Brian Jennings, along with Dwyer’s sisters Maria and Anne and extended family members.

“His life directed our attention beyond the village, beyond sameness, outwards,” said Fr Kennedy. “His interest and his energy positively drew us into another world, where representation of life was different, where the other view was possible.” Fr Kennedy said Dwyer had “led us, through his wide interest in cinema, to other conduits of understanding.”

He also praised Dwyer’s interest in the “other way of viewing, in the other way of being”. “His energy brought about a certain transformation.”

RTÉ newsreader Aengus Mac Grianna read out a personal tribute from Jennings at the service. “He was my soulmate and I his. He was my mentor and I his. He was my companion in bad times and good . . . My darling, beautiful, gorgeous man is gone, but Michael, I will love you forever,” it read.

Mr Jennings’s father Tony also spoke at the service on behalf of Mr Dwyer’s sisters and his mother Mary, who was unable to attend.

Along with the bread and wine, a photograph of Mr Dwyer’s and Mr Jennings’s two cats Fred and Ginger; the Chevalier Des Artes et Lettres award to Mr Dwyer by the French government in 2006; his Volta Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Dublin International Film Festival, and the Kerry colours representing his native county, were part of the offertory procession.

They were brought up by his sisters Anne Lyons and Maria Barrett, by Mr Jennings and by family members Nicholas Barrett, Timmy Barrett and Jimmy Lyons.

Music at the ceremony was provided by Finbar Furey and Francie Conway. The prayers of the faithful were read by the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival director Gráinne Humphreys, film festival co-founder and Wexford Festival Opera chief executive David McLoughlin and RTÉ newsreader Susan Jackson, among others.

Irish Timeseditor Geraldine Kennedy and managing director Maeve Donovan also attended the funeral, as did deputy managing director Liam Kavanagh, managing editors Gerry Smyth and Willy Clingan, and the newspaper’s online editor Hugh Linehan.

Also present were film critic Donald Clarke, Ticket editor Conor Goodman and many other friends and colleagues from The Irish Times.

RTÉ’s director of news Ed Mulhall was there, along with news editor Michael Good, news anchor Bryan Dobson and Morning Ireland presenter Áine Lawlor.

The worlds of film and literature were represented by directors Lenny Abrahamson, Paddy Breathnach and John Carney; actors Liam Cunningham, Mark O’Halloran, Lorcan Cranitch, Bronagh Gallagher and Rosaleen Linehan, and writers Colm Tóibín, John Connolly and Ronan Sheehan.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley, Arts Council chair Pat Moylan, Culture Ireland chief executive Eugene Downes and information commissioner Emily O’Reilly also attended. The funeral was followed by a short service at Mount Jerome crematorium, where Mr Dwyer was cremated.

Mr Dwyer, who wrote for The Irish Timesfor more than 20 years, died on January 1st at the age of 58, following an illness.