Congregation told of 'kind and caring' man

Mon, Oct 19, 2009, 01:00

FUNERAL MASS:STEPHEN GATELY was “a real gentleman – kind, caring, and very charitable”, Fr Declan Blake told mourners at the Boyzone singer’s funeral mass in Dublin at the weekend.

Addressing the 600-strong congregation inside St Laurence O’Toole’s Church and, via loudspeaker, to up to 3,000 more outside, Fr Blake acknowledged that Gately “had his own troubles in life”, but said that in pursuing his own dreams he had never forgotten others.

Of his many charitable works, the priest mentioned a visit the singer had made once to a very sick child in hospital who admired his jacket. Gately took it off there and then and gave it to her as a present: “She died an hour later.”

A former Mountjoy prison chaplain, Fr Blake is a recent arrival in the north inner city parish where the Boyzone star was born.

Out of respect for the wishes of the family, media coverage of the service was confined to a cordoned off area outside the church on Seville Place.

Fr Blake’s homily was followed by eulogies from the members of Boyzone, who had spent the night before in the church, keeping a vigil beside the coffin.

Keith Duffy said that, 16 years ago, their manager Louis Walsh had created a band. But the singers themselves had created “a friendship . . . and a bond” that had continued ever since.

He assured Gately’s partner, Andy Cowles, that he now had “four new brothers” and told the bereaved parents, Martin and Margaret Gately, that they had “four new sons”. Band member Ronan Keating wept as he paid tribute to “a man, a friend . . . a hero”.

Keating also sang during the funeral mass, accompanied by the Gardiner Street Gospel Choir. Mikey Graham read one of the prayers. Other singers included Hannah Cowles, a sister of Andy, and Tony Kenny.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern was among those who attended the service, while mourners also included the partner of Elton John, David Furnish, musicians Kian Egan, Jason Donovan, and Brian McFadden, and the broadcaster Vanessa Feltz.

Elton John sent flowers and there were tributes from George Michael, David and Victoria Beckham, Simon Cowell, Take That, U2, Robbie Williams and many others.

Mourners threw flowers at the cortege as it left the church via Seville Place.