Longford meets Dublin 4 in remembering Albert Reynolds
People paid their respects to the late former taoiseach at Donnybrook church
Kathleen Reynolds follows the coffin as it is carried from the Mansion House. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The late Albert Reynolds’s daughters Miriam, Emer, Andrea, Cathy and Leonie and other family members follow his remains into the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook. Photograph: Alan Betson
Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook after the removal of Albert Reynolds. Photograph: Alan Betson
John Reynolds at the Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, for the removal of his uncle Albert Reynolds. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Former taoiseach Brian Cowen at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook after the removal of Albert Reynolds. Photograph: Alan Betson
At nearly 10pm on Saturday night, the queue to sympathise with an exhausted Kathleen Reynolds and her family was still moving slowly up the aisle of Donnybrook church.
The public element of the family’s day had begun more than nine hours earlier, when they accompanied the open coffin of the devoted husband, father and former taoiseach, at the Mansion House.
But even amid the pomp, solemnity and tight protocol of a State funeral, they remained faithful to the old country tradition of the bereaved remaining seated to shake hands and share whispered, wistful memories with old friends.
Michael McCrann, a family friend from Albert’s home place of Rooskey, noted the huge Longford contingent that had come to Dublin 4, amid the judges and lawyers, politicians, accountants, racing figures, business people, trade unionists and senior civil servants.
“Even though it isn’t a country funeral, it has all the ingredients of one,” said Derry O’Donovan, retired agri banker and contributor to Fianna Fáil’s infamous 1977 election manifesto – “just the agricultural element”, he stressed.
Town and countryClearly, some thought had gone into reflecting both Albert’s midlands roots and his D4 years. It was noted that the young tenor soloist, Emmet Cahill, was from the Mullingar area and that undertaking duties were shared between Fanagans, the Dublin-based undertakers, and Mullingar’s Con Gilsenan.
It was a deeply solemn service, preceded by sweet, traditional laments on violin and piano as a stream of old faces from another era took their places in the top left-hand pews marked “Government”.
John Bruton was the first of the three former taoisigh to arrive, with his wife, Finola, followed by Brian and Mary Cowen, and Bertie Ahern, in a black corduroy jacket. “Oh can you believe it? Eoghan Fitzsimons,” murmured an old Reynolds stalwart in a none-too-kindly tone, reflecting residual resentment towards the lawyer who served as attorney general around the events that brought down the FF-Labour coalition and Albert Reynolds with it. At times like these, 20 years is only a few minutes ago.
Meanwhile, a whole political era drifted past in the form of Charlie McCreevy, Michael Smith, Pat Carey, Joe Jacob, Frank Fahey, Gerry Brady, Michael O’Kennedy, Johnny Brady, John Ellis, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Michael Woods as Donie Cassidy ticked off the names and reminisced.