President and Taoiseach among mourners at McFadden funeral

Longford-Westmeath TD died this week after battle with motor neurone disease

Eoin McFadden (centre left) carrying the remains of his mother Nicky Mc Fadden into at Our Lady’s Queen of Peace Church, Coosan, Athlone for funeral Mass. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Eoin McFadden (centre left) carrying the remains of his mother Nicky Mc Fadden into at Our Lady’s Queen of Peace Church, Coosan, Athlone for funeral Mass. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 15:25

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among hundreds of mourners in attendance today at the Funeral of Nicky McFadden, the Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath who died earlier this week from motor neurone disease.

At the Funeral Mass in Coosan, Athlone, this afternoon Ms McFadden, who was 51, was described at a woman who was optimistic, warm, vivacious, caring and courageous.

Chief concelebrant Fr Declan Shannon said she saw the world “through rose-tinted glasses; Nicky ever the optimist who could see only the good in others”.

The chief mourners were her daughter Caren, son Eoin, grand-daughter Matilda and her sisters Gab (Gabrielle) a councillor, and Áine, as well as her aunt Baba.

In a short tribute, Caren said she and Eoin were very lucky to have had a mother who was glamorous, vivacious, warm, kind, loving and wise.

In his homily, Fr Shannon said that everyone who knew her from her time as a receptionist in a doctor’s surgery; and during her political career as a councillor, senator and Dáil deputy, remembered a woman with a big heart.

He said she “possessed the special gift of making you feel you were the most important person in the world”.

Speaking of her illness, he said its slow onslaught saw her “embrace that challenge with all the determination she could muster”.

He said she fought it with every fibre and she was determined that the illness would not define her.

Among the concelebrants of the Mass were Bishop Emeritus of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Colm O’Reilly and Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby.

The funeral was also attended by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett and Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann Paddy Burke.

Twelve members of the Cabinet were in attendance, as was Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

The three members of the Cabinet who could not attend had paid their respects the previous evening.

Almost 100 of Ms McFadden’s parliamentary colleagues from Fine Gael were in attendance at the Mass, as were many parliamentarians from Labour, all of the opposition parties and from the independent benches.

The attendance also included retired TDs and Senators as well as the mayor of Westmeath Peter Burke and the mayor of Longford, Larry Bannon.

Ms McFadden was first elected to the Dáil in 2011, having served a term as a senator.

She was diagnosed with a progressive strain of motor neurone disease in late 2012 but continued to serve as a TD until the final stages of her illness.