Son of Albert Reynolds remembers man of ‘deep, genuine goodness’

Philip Reynolds pays tribute to his father’s lifelong dedication to helping others

The family of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds  at his State funeral  at Shanganagh Cemetery, Shankill, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The family of former taoiseach Albert Reynolds at his State funeral at Shanganagh Cemetery, Shankill, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 01:00

Former taoiseach Albert Reynold’s son Philip said his late father had “slipped away to do his next deal” in the early hours of last Thursday morning.

Delivering the eulogy at the requiem Mass for his father, Mr Reynolds described his father as a man of “deep, genuine goodness”.

Mr Reynolds prompted laughter when, referring to his mother Kathleen, he said “his loyal, devoted wife of 52 years would have seen through it if it was anything else. After all, as he would say, ‘That’s women for you’.”

Speaking on behalf of the Reynolds family, Mr Reynolds said: “Our hearts are broken.”

He said all the family members now realised that “no matter how much notice we are given”, they were not quite ready for their father’s life to end.

Mr Reynolds said his father’s last journey started “in the true manner” of the person who introduced Ireland to its first full-colour election poster.

“At half one on Thursday morning, he Facetimed his grandkids in JFK in New York, because he knew he wouldn’t be here to greet them when they landed.”

‘Privilege and honour’

However, Mr Reynolds said his father had given his mother enough time to “round up” the seven children.

“He had the decency to afford us the privilege and honour to spend his last 24 hours with him . . . At 2.52 on Thursday morning, surrounded by those that he knew loved him most, he slipped away to do his next deal.”

Mr Reynolds said many beautiful things had been written and said about his father in the past few days. “How successful he was in his life is for others to judge. To us it doesn’t matter.”

Mr Reynolds said his father was a “simple, innately good and brilliant man”, which was not to say that he was perfect.

“He would often say every day is a learning day. Learn one new thing every day. Because in learning, comes mistakes . . . the more mistakes you make, the more you learn.”

Mr Reynolds said the clarity of his father’s thought left no room for confusion and no space for clutter. “His often scoffed-at one-page philosophy says more about us than it does about him.”

He had an amazing ability to keep things simple, which made decision-making easy for him, Mr Reynolds said.

He said the ability to make life that little bit easier for everyone was within us all, and was something in which his father took much pleasure. “That twinkle in his eye shone brightest when he was helping others.”

‘Goodness at his core’

Mr Reynolds described his father as “a dealer, but not a wheeler-dealer” in his professional life. “He trusted people until they gave him no reason to do so and in turn they responded,” he said. He had a way of bringing people with him without ever having to ask.

Mr Reynolds said his father had been satisfied with his life’s work because he had lived a life with “goodness at his core”.

The former taoiseach’s family last year revealed that he had Alzheimer’s disease.

Yesterday Mr Reynolds said “the cruelness of his illness” meant that he had, in reality, “left” years before many of his grandchildren had an opportunity to see “the real Dad, the family man”. He concluded: “Your work is done here Dad. Rest in peace.”