Mourners told Leonard nurtured his gift


PLAYWRIGHT HUGH Leonard was “a Dalkey monument” who had “nurtured and expressed” his gift, mourners were told at his removal on Saturday. Mourners gathered at the Church of the Assumption in Dalkey to remember Jack Keyes Byrne, who wrote under the pseudonym Hugh Leonard. Aged 82, he died last Thursday in the Blackrock clinic.

“We thank God for Jack, for the gifts that blossomed in his life, Paule and Kathy, for Danielle,” said parish priest Fr John McDonagh, referring respectively to the playwright’s late wife, his current wife and his daughter.

“We thank God for his life as a playwright, gifts nurtured and expressed, for all it meant to the theatre world . . . We thank God for his loving attachment to Dalkey, through the prism of life here he projected his art onto a wider stage,” continued Fr McDonagh.

Earlier, welcoming mourners, he said “a Dalkey monument has passed from among us . . . we’re gathered with Kathy and Danielle, with memories of his beloved Paule, to share grief, offer support, and to ask the Lord to bring Jack into the promised joy of new life in the kingdom of God.”

He quoted Russian writer Fydor Dostoyevsky, that “while on earth we grope almost in the dark, but for the precious image of Christ before us, we would lose our way completely and perish.” He also welcomed Fr Paddy Finn, “a good friend of Jack’s”, who led mourners in a decade of the rosary.

Among the attendance was Cmdt Michael Treacy representing the Taoiseach, playwrights Bernard Farrell and Frank McGuinness, theatre directors Garry Hynes and Patrick Mason, film producer Lelia Doolan, poet Micheál Ó Siadhail, actors Barry McGovern, Ingrid Craigie, Pat Laffan and Karen Ardiff, RTÉ producer Séamus Hosey, Irish Times theatrecritic Gerry Colgan, writer Ronan Farren, as well as the deceased’s neighbours and friends. The funeral Mass takes place in the Church of the Assumption today at 10am.