Former chief justice pays tribute to broadcaster Brian Farrell

Ex-RTÉ broadcaster’s chief gift was friendship and loyalty, mourners told at funeral

Former RTÉ presenter Brian Farrell has died aged 85. Video: RTÉ


Former broadcaster Brian Farrell was a family man who enjoyed a pint and a song in west Clare, and attempts with his children to dam streams in the Dublin mountains, his funeral service heard today.

Former chief justice Ronan Keane told mourners Mr Farrell “had many gifts”, the greatest of which was for friendship.

Justice Keane was one of a number of dignitaries including Tánaiste Joan Burton and others from from the worlds of politics, media and academia who attended Mr Farrell’s funeral in the Church of the Holy Cross, Dundrum, Co Dublin.

President Michael D Higgins, who is in Africa, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their respective Aides-de-camp, Colonel Brendan McAndrew and Commandant Kieran Carey .

Mr Farrell’s first loyalty was always to Marie-Thérèse, his wife of over 60 years and his friendship was for people of all walks of life, Justice Keane said.

Mr Farrell’s son David also referred to his father’s gift for friendship. He said his father’s academic prowess never stood between him and a chat, even with hitchhikers with whom his father would go out of his way to ensure they arrived home safely.

David Farrell said he remembered his father as a man who enjoyed his holidays in Doonbeg, Co Clare, a man was a gaelgoir “and even a water diviner”. His father was a man from a family of republicans who had married the grand daughter of John Dillon the last leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, he said. He said the broadcaster had been colour blind and that his choice of shirts, particularly in later years his bow ties, and been set by Marie-Thérèse.

Both Fr Paul Murphy, a friend for more than 50 years, and Justice Keane referred to Mr Farrell’s religious attachment. Justice Keane recalled that Mr Farrell had once set out to become a priest. Fr Murphy said he had no doubt “Brian encountered the Lord as he went through life with the eyes of faith”.

Justice Keane concluded his address with a reference to Heraclitus by the poet William Johnson Cory: They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead. They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.”

The chief concelebrants were Fr Murphy and Fr Christopher Dillon a former Abbot of Glenstal, who were assisted by seven other priests including John Bracken PP of Holy Cross church. Fr Dillon is a cousin of Mr Farrell’s wife Marie-Thérèse (née Dillon).

The chief mourners were Marie-Thérèse, Mr Farrell’s sister Eithne and his children Naomi, Bernard, Miriam, David, Rachel, Theo and Brian. Mr Farrell was pre-deceased by his daughter Jeanne-Marie who died in infancy.

Fr Dillon read from the Gospel according to John (3: 37-40) “because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of him who sent me”.

Among the congregation were the Minister for Communications Alex White, former minister and government chief whip Tom Kitt and former TDs Nora Owen and Barry Desmond. RTÉ current affairs presenter Miriam O’Callaghan attended as did broadcasters Sean Duignan, Mike Burns, Rodney Rice and Mike Murphy, among others. The former editor of The Irish Times Geraldine Kennedy attended as did the paper’s political editor Stephen Collins , Ursula Halligan of TV3, Deaglán de Bréadún of the Irish Sun and Irish Times columnist Noel Whelan.