Simple send-off for much-loved Binchy
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." The words from the book of Ecclesiastes marked the first reading at the funeral of the journalist and much-loved author Maeve Binchy, which took place at the Church of the Assumption, in Dalkey, Co Dublin this morning.
Binchy died on Monday at the age of 72.
It was standing room only in the small Dalkey church for the funeral mass. The ceremony, which was a simple affair in keeping with the wishes of the late author, was concelebrated by former Dalkey parish priest Fr John McDonagh and visiting priest Fr William Stuart.
The celebrants remembered Binchy’s “warm and infectious personality”, adding that a “river of ink” had been used in the week since her death to describe her.
Delivering his sermon, Fr Stuart said the author had once said that, when her time came, she hoped she would be dispatched “with dignity and without hypocrisy in a faith which I envy and would love to share”.
He said: "I would like to think that, as she closed her eyes on this world last Monday that shortly thereafter Maeve opened them and was surprised by the light of God’s face.
“But I also suspect, Maeve being Maeve, she didn’t stay surprised for too long and having got her bearings on heaven she began to talk to the Almighty and she is still talking to the Almighty and she will go on talking to the Almighty for a very long time.
“God, you called her, you can listen to her,” the priest said to laughter and applause of the crowd.
Although Binchy's husband Gordon Snell was very keen there would be no flowers at the funeral, an exception was made for the roses on her coffin. The flowers, named Rosa Gordon Snell, were recognised by the Royal National Rose Society in England after Binchy lodged the bloom as a special birthday present to him.
Binchy’s love of Irish traditional music was reflected in performances by Shaun Davey, Liam O'Flynn, Rita Connolly and Paddy Glackin during the funeral mass, which was followed by a private cremation.
Among the hundreds of mourners who attended were the President’s aide-de-camp Col Brendan McAndrew and Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s aide-de-camp Comdt Michael Treacy.
Colleagues from The Irish Times, for which Binchy worked and to which she contributed articles for over five decades, were among the attendees.
The Editor Kevin O'Sullivan was represented by Denis Staunton, deputy editor, while managing director Liam Kavanagh and chairman of the Irish Times Board David Went were also in attendance.
Former Irish Times journalists Renagh Holohan, Mary Maher and Brendan O'Cathaoir were at the funeral, as was current Irish Times journalist Róisín Ingle.
Famous faces from the acting world included producer Noel Pearson and actors Brenda Fricker; Barry McGovern; Eamon Morrissey; Claudia Carroll; Pat Laffan and Frank Kelly, while RTÉ presenters Marian Finucane and Pat Kenny also attended.
Other attendees were Press Ombudsman John Horgan; chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Bob Collins; Seamus Dooley of the National Union of Journalists; writer Nell McCafferty; Mr Justice Peter Smithwick; Canon Patrick Comerford; former chair of the Art Council Olive Braiden; and Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland.
Born at Dalkey, Co Dublin, in May 1940, Binchy was the eldest of four children.She wrote 16 novels, two of which, The Lilac Bus and Echoes, were made into TV films while Circle of Friends, Tara Road and How About You were made into feature films. She also penned four collections of short stories, a play called Deeply Regretted By and the novella Star Sullivan.
She is survived by her husband Gordon Snell, brother, Prof William Binchy, and sister Joan. Another sister, Renee, died some years ago.
In this newspaper on July 3rd last she said: “I don’t have any regrets about any roads I didn’t take. Everything went well, and I think that’s been a help because I can look back, and I do get great pleasure out of looking back...I’ve been very lucky and I have a happy old age with good family and friends still around.”