Funeral of former tánaiste's husband
MORE THAN 1,500 mourners, including former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, attended the funeral Mass of 48-year-old garda David Charlton in Frosses, Co Donegal, yesterday.
The deceased was the husband of former tánaiste and Fianna Fáil TD Mary Coughlan.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who could not be there because of a Cabinet meeting, called to Ms Coughlan’s home on Monday night to offer his sympathies.
He was among several hundred people who called to the wake house, 400 metres from St Mary’s Church in the village.
President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp Col Brendan McAndrew, while Mr Kenny’s aide-de-camp, Comdt Michael Treacy, also attended.
Mr Charlton’s brother Padraic told how he faced cancer with serenity and focused on its termination.
Mr Charlton, a native of Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, had been looking forward to a Donegal-Mayo All-Ireland football final but he died on the eve of Mayo’s semi-final victory over Dublin.
Padraic Charlton said: “I actually think he was really the extra man that helped Mayo over the line with the Dubs.”
Before the coffin was carried into the church, the Tricolour was lifted from it, folded and handed to Ms Coughlan by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Ms Coughlan, with her children Cathal (15) and Maeve (13) on either side, held the flag while the three led the cortege into the church where she and her husband married 21 years ago.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, TD Éamon Ó Cuív and former minister Seán Haughey were among the packed congregation who heard of Mr Charlton’s love of Gaelic games and golf.
Earlier in the service, local parish priest Fr John McLoone, who celebrated the Mass with several other priests, told how Mr Charlton, who served at Glenties Garda station, was a good policeman, husband and father.
His loss of a leg following an accident 13 years ago was a tremendous blow but he struggled to cope.
Fr McLoone added: “I learned more about him when he was coping with his terminal illness. He had a great belief in God and he said last Thursday that he had no fear of dying and he was prepared to go when the good Lord called him.”
They talked then of meeting at the weekend and both had planned to watch the Mayo-Dublin game together on television but Mr Charlton died on Saturday evening after his long battle with cancer.
Fr McLoone said: “He would be very happy with the result. I have no doubt, with his strong faith, he had a good seat for the All-Ireland semi-final.”
Others present included Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness, MEP Pat The Cope Gallagher, TDs Dara Calleary and Thomas Pringle, former minister and EU commissioner Ray MacSharry, as well as former ministers Dermot Ahern and Noel Dempsey, and former TD Martin Mansergh.