Tributes paid to father in law of Taoiseach
THE LATE Seán O’Ceallaigh, former senior civil servant and father-in-law of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, was “the most humble of men” and “a giver, not a receiver”, mourners at his funeral in Dublin were told yesterday.
Fr Larry Kelly, Mr O’Ceallaigh’s nephew, told the congregation at St John the Baptist Church in Clontarf that his uncle, who had been secretary general at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, never sought publicity for any of his achievements or good deeds.
Mourners travelled from Kerry, Mayo and many other parts of the country to pay their respects to Mr O’Ceallaigh (87), who died last Friday at the Bon Secours Hospital in Glasnevin.
Fr Kelly said Mr O’Ceallaigh, an all-Ireland footballer for his home county of Kerry, had the “uncanny gift of being a good listener and treated everyone with kindness and understanding”. He was also a devoted father and had a wonderful relationship with his grandchildren.
He was very proud of his roots, loved “all aspects of Irish culture” and had a passion for Gaelic games, Fr Kelly said. And as a public servant he had worked with “great honesty and integrity”.
Mourners at the funeral included Mr O’Ceallaigh’s daughter, the Taoiseach’s wife Fionnuala Kenny, her siblings Maria, Breda, Brian, Niamh, Noreen and Micheál, and husband Mr Kenny. Other relatives included his nephew Seán Kelly, MEP for Ireland South.
Many members of the Fine Gael party were present. MEP for Ireland East Maireád McGuinness attended, as did deputies Tom Hayes (South Tipperary), Michelle Mulherin (Mayo), Joe O’Reilly (Cavan and Monaghan), Dan Neville (Limerick), Anthony Lawlor (Kildare North), Peter Matthews (Dublin South), Simon Harris (Wicklow) and Terence Flanagan (Dublin North East).
Senator Paul Coghlan also attended along with Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran, Frank Flannery, the party’s director of organisation and strategy, Mark Kennelly, the Taoiseach’s chief of staff and the Taoiseach’s economics adviser Andrew McDowell.
Attorney General Máire Whelan was there, as was former local Fianna Fáil TD Seán Haughey, his wife Orla and former Fianna Fáil press secretary PJ Mara.
President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp Col Brendan McAndrew. The Taoiseach’s aide-de-camp Comdt Michael Tracy also attended.
In deference to Mr O’Ceallaigh’s love of the Irish language, one of the readings and some prayers were said in Irish. And five of his grandchildren sang Ag Críost an Síol.
Prayers were said for his family, including his wife Eileen who predeceased him by 22 years, and for staff at the Bon Secours Hospital.
Parish priest Fr Martin Hogan led the final blessing before Mr O’Ceallaigh’s coffin was carried to the hearse by his sons and grandsons for burial at Dardistown Cemetery.