Lenihan an 'inspiration to all'


More than 1,000 mourners gathered today to pay their respects at the funeral of former finance minister Brian Lenihan.

Family members were joined by President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former cabinet colleagues for the requiem Mass in St Mochta’s Church, Porterstown, west Dublin.

Mr Lenihan died last Friday aged 52 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Friends, colleagues and constituents applauded as the former minister’s family arrived at the small church for the service.

Fr Eugene Kennedy, a family friend and retired parish priest, told mourners Mr Lenihan had suffered a cruel irony after supporting the development of St Francis Hospice’s new facility in Blanchardstown only to be cared for by its staff.

“The new Blanchardstown hospice will remain a monument to his work and what a cruel irony he was among its first home care patients,” he said.

Well-known figures from politics, the law, industry and Irish society attended the service, including a large number of former government and Fianna Fáil party colleagues such as former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.

Mr Lenihan was buried after the Mass in a private ceremony at St David’s Church graveyard, Kilsallaghan.

Thousands of people queued over the weekend and yesterday to pay their respects at Mr Lenihan’s office in Castleknock and also at Government Buildings, following a request to open a book of condolence from the Taoiseach.

Mr Lenihan’s coffin, draped in the Tricolour, was brought to the small chapel under military escort last night after the Defence Forces offered to support the family and Fianna Fáil party in arrangements.

In a moving eulogy, former attorney general Paul Gallagher spoke to mourners for almost 30 minutes about his late friend. “He was a master of all the talents, he was an inspiration to us all, and he was a great patriot,” he said.

Mr Gallagher said politics “excited every neuron and permeated every fibre” of the late finance minister, but he was also a devoted family man.

“There were three qualities that defined Brian and his public service: duty, honour and country,” he said. “The other defining quality was his utter devotion to, and love for, his family."

Mr Gallagher said Mr Lenihan faced the most daunting and awful challenges as finance minister, which needed decisions to be made without guidance or hesitation. But he faced them without flinching from the task, he said.

“He was imbued with hope, he was imbued with confidence and he was imbued with courage,” he said.

He said Mr Lenihan displayed that same courage and fortitude when diagnosed with the illness which was to claim his life. “If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed such courage was possible,” he added.