Meath councillor Damien O’Reilly was a selfless ‘people person’, funeral hears

Fianna Fáil politician ‘had the personality for the job, always giving of himself and always patient for others,’ priest tells mourners

Tánaiste Micheál Martin was among the mourners at the funeral mass of Meath county councillor Damien O’Reilly (40), who died suddenly last Saturday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented by his aide-de-camp, Cmdt Claire Mortimer, at the funeral in Co Meath. Bishop of Meath, Tom Deenihan, and a large number of public representatives were also in attendance.

Dunboyne parish priest, Patrick O’Connor, welcomed the principal mourners – Cllr O’Reilly’s fiancee Lisa; daughter, Carly; stepson, Kyle, and mother, Phil – to St Peter and Paul’s Church, Dunboyne.

Among the symbols of Cllr O’Reilly’s life that were brought to the alter were a mobile phone, which Fr O’Connor said symbolised his constant availability to his constituents; a St Peter’s GAA jersey to represent his interest in sport; the Fianna Fáil councillor’s second master’s degree representing his academic achievements and interest in education; and a photograph that symbolised that family came first.


A further symbol was a chain of office that recognised his commitment to public service.

Fr O’Connor offered his sympathy to Lisa who he said would have been planning their future with their children.

“He had everything going for him: in the prime of life, full of vitality, having a sense of fun, being a loving father, of having friends, having a happy home, having a bright future. Today, our hearts are broken, our spirits are crushed with the suddenness of it all,” said Fr O’Connor.

“It is right that we that we shed tears. On occasions such as this, we realise language is limited and our words are inadequate,” he said.

Of the late councillor’s work, Fr O’Connor said: “Damien packed so much into a day and had such a variety of interests it would be impossible to tell the full story. Damien was a Dunboyne son through and through. He was born and reared here. He was steeped in its cultures, traditions and history.

“Damien was a councillor and had the personality for the job. He was a people person. He [had] the ability to remember faces, names and details. He was selfless in his work, always giving himself and always patient for others.

“The day wasn’t long enough for him and he packed so much into his life. He had time for everyone. Everyone was special for him. He almost put himself and his own needs last. He was a true public servant who we will miss in time here.”

Cllr O’Reilly was first elected as a councillor for Ratoath in 2014. He was re-elected in 2019 and was Cathaoirleach of the Ratoath Municipal District.

Fr O’Connor also sympathised with Cllr O’Reilly’s mother who, the priest said, loved and was loved in return by the councillor.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist