David Byrne funeral: Hundreds attend Mass in Dublin

Coffin is carried by eight young men, all wearing similar black suits and blue shirts

Up to 1,000 people attended the funeral in Dublin of the murdered gang figure David Byrne.

His funeral Mass was held at St Nicholas of Myra church on Dublin's Francis St followed by burial at Mount Jerome in Harold's Cross.

His pale blue, American-style casket coffin was carried into the church, past a large throng of mourners, shortly before 1pm.

The eight young men who carried the coffin into the church, led by a lone piper, were dressed in identical black suits with blue shirts and dark ties.

Another group of around 30 men, who led the larger group of mourners walking behind the coffin, were dressed in identical clothing.

Some of those gathered outside remarked that this choice of identical clothing lent an almost military-style tone to the funeral.

Members of the Kinahan drugs gang, of which Byrne was a member, were present. Some are understood to live in Ireland while others flew in from Spain for the occasion.

Gardaí were forced to close Francis Street for a period this afternoon as mourners walked the last part of the journey from Byrne's family home on Raleigh Square, Crumlin.

Along with the hearse carrying the coffin there were 11 black Mercedes limousines, three horse-drawn carts carrying floral tributes and two hearses were also filled with floral tributes.

Some of the floral tributes read “Brother”, “Mate” and “Cuz” and one was made-up in the design of a race car, apparently to mark the fact the dead man had two young children. There were also some floral arrangements in the shape and colours of alcoholic drinks.

Byrne (34), a father-of-two, was shot dead during a boxing weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in the north of the city on February 5th by a six-strong gang, some armed with assault rifles.

His funeral Mass heard a strong plea by officiating priest Fr Niall Coghlan who said to murder someone in cold blood required for the killer to be dehumanised.

He asked the congregation, which included some gang land associates, whether the people who shot Byrne would have done so had they seen a film of Byrne’s life.

Fr Coghlan said in such a film it would be clear Byrne was a loved partner and father and was nicknamed ‘Happy Harry’. Byrne was known for his party piece which was back flipping on the dance floor, the congregation was told.

At the end of the Mass Byrne was remembered by family members as having a strong sense of humour with one anecdote about when Byrne had gone to a petrol station late at night wearing only a leotard and his mother’s fur coat.

There was also laughter at recollections of his fondness for his pet rabbit Snowy, whom he used to walk around Crumlin on a lead.

After the service, mourners walked to the end of Francis Street behind the coffin, carried by a group of men dressed in the black suits with blue shirts.

The cortege then drove off, led by motor cycle out riders for the Chosen Few MC; an Irish biker club.

A number of 4X4 vehicles carrying heavily armed members of the Emergency Response Unit who were wearing balaclavas followed the funeral convey.

There was a very heavy Garda presence, both armed and unarmed, on Francis Street and surrounding areas.

The Garda helicopter could be seen in the skies about the Francis St area both before and after the service and a small fixed wing aircraft was also visible. It had been hired by media outlets to photograph the event from the skies.

Byrne was a member of the international drugs cartel led by Dubliner Christy Kinahan which is based in southern Spain in the Marbella area but has members in Ireland and supplies the Irish drugs market.

Sources said Kinahan, a convicted fraudster and drug dealer, arrived in Dublin yesterday for Byrne's funeral. The same sources said he was with his son Daniel Kinahan, who is believed to have been the primary target of the gunmen who killed Byrne and wounded two other men last Friday week.

Garda sources said while the Continuity IRA had released contradictory statements last week about the group’s involvement in the gun attack that claimed Byrne’s life, it was still possible they were involved in some way.

The same sources said that AK47s were used in the attack and that it was carried out with paramilitary efficiency.

The sources said the possibility dissidents were aiding Gary Hutch’s associates in taking on Kinahan’s gang could not be dismissed.

Relations between the Hutch and Kinahan factions have deteriorated since the Kinahan gang, of which Gary Hutch was once a member, accused him of being an informer about two years ago.

Eddie Hutch (59) was then shot dead at his home on Poplar Row, Dublin 1, last Monday.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times