‘Keep fighting, keep fighting, but even a soldier needs to rest’

Family and friends gather for funeral of ‘Irish Times’ education editor Seán Flynn

Seán Flynn: His funeral was uplifting given the depth of love that permeated the family household. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Seán Flynn: His funeral was uplifting given the depth of love that permeated the family household. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Corpus Christi Church in Drumcondra was full to capacity earlier today for the funeral of Seán Flynn, Irish Times education editor. Family members were joined by hundreds of friends, colleagues and figures from education, politics and the media as the congregation celebrated the life of a man who was described as “remarkable”.

The very moving ceremony included a tearful eulogy by two of Flynn’s children Jack and Julianne who described the terrible impact of their loss. Yet the funeral was uplifting given the obvious depth of love that permeated the family household.

Jack Flynn described how his father would make breakfast in bed for his mother, only to leave the kitchen in a complete mess. “The house doesn’t feel the same without your chatting and humour,” he said. “I want to thank you for your guidance in life.”

His daughter told the congregation she made entries in a diary before and just after his death at home last Wednesday. “Keep fighting, keep fighting, but even a soldier needs to rest,” she read. “I miss you already. All I want is to hear your bubbly voice and feel the energy you brought into our home.”

Seán was a man of whom it could be said he loved life, said chief celebrant and family relation Fr Pat O’Gorman. “He has been greatly blessed with the gift of love which he shared with others. Love was the bedrock of their family life,” Fr O’Gorman said.

Concelebrant and parish priest Fr William King described Seán as “a remarkable man” who had excelled in many areas yet he carried his accomplishments very lightly. “Death and Seán Flynn seems to be an absurdity, too young, too talented, too full of life,” Fr King said. “ But that is the mystery of life and death. May he rest in peace.”

The prayers of the faithful were read by sons David, Luke and Stephen and by friends Dermot Burke and Tommy Gorman of RTÉ. Family members and friends were involved in the funeral Mass while three singers performed On Eagles Wings and Pié Jesu amongst others.

At the close of the Mass the coffin was shouldered by Seán’s three older sons, David, Jack and Stephen, along with Dermot Burke and two nephews David and Fran McDonagh.

Windblown rain spattered down on the congregation as the Mass ended and people filed out behind the coffin. Seán was later laid to rest at Glasnevin Cemetery with his family gathered about him.

Chief mourners at the funeral were his wife Elaine and children Stephen, Jack, David, Julianne and Luke. There were also many relations from both families in attendance.

The President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide d camp Lieutenant David Lyons of the Naval Service. The Minister for Education and Skills was represented by departmental adviser John Walshe, who was also a friend and media colleague.

The education sector was heavily represented at the funeral, a mark of the respect in which he was held by the community. All three teachers’ unions were represented and three presidents of universities and institutes of technology attended. Departmental secretary general Seán Ó Foghlú was there as was his predecessor Brigid McManus, so too was Tom Boland head of the Higher Education Authority, Ned Costello of the Irish Universities Association, Gerry Murray of Institutes of Technology Ireland and Anne Looney, head of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Irish Times Editor Kevin O’Sullivan represented the newspaper along with managing director Liam Kavanagh. There were also many current and former work colleagues at the funeral to celebrate Seán’s life and work including former editors Geraldine Kennedy and Conor Brady who attended the removal, and former managing director Maeve Donovan.

Political figures in attendance included Minister of State Brian Hayes and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. There were also a number of sitting and former TDs.

Media figures included David Daven Power and Emma O’Kelly of RTÉ and Katherine Donnelly of the Irish Independent.