Former taoisigh among mourners at PJ Mara’s burial

Figures from business, sport and media attend Mount Cross cemetery in Kinvara

 

To the strains of Lord Lovat’s Lament, lone piper Chris O’Brien led Fianna Fáil strategist PJ Mara to his final resting place in south Galway’s Kinvara on Sunday.

Two former taoisigh, several former ministers and MEPs and leading figures from business, sport and the media were among those who accompanied the coffin, draped in the Tricolour, to the grave at Mount Cross cemetery overlooking the Burren.

Dressed for the Atlantic elements in thick gloves and boots, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern saluted party colleagues, including his successor Brian Cowen, former EU commissioner Ray MacSharry and Mark Killilea.

Businessman Denis O’Brien; NUI chancellor Maurice Manning, economist Colm McCarthy; Fianna Fáíl general secretary Seán Dorgan and former Government press secretary Mandy Johnston were present; as was former marine minister Brendan Daly, former Fianna Fáil TD Ned O’Keeffe and several councillors, including Independent Michael “Stroke” Fahy, also formerly of the party.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by aide-de-camp Comdt Kieran Carey. Among journalists present were Northern Ireland broadcaster Eamonn Mallie, RTE presenter Seán O’Rourke and RTÉ political correspondent David Davin-Power.

‘Embarrassed’

“I think PJ might be a bit embarrassed by all this attention,” his brother-in-law, Finbarr Brogan said.

Speaking at the graveside, Fr Frank Larkin expressed his sympathies on behalf of all those gathered to Mr Mara’s son John, daughter Elena, partner Sheila and relatives.

Mr Mara’s late wife, Breda, was from Kinvara, and many people in the community knew him very well, “enjoyed his company” and were “aware of his promise”, Fr Larkin said.

A piece of sculpture, entitled Flight of Birds, had been commissioned from artist John Coll by Mr Mara for his wife’s headstone, Fr Larkin noted.

“May PJ rest in peace and his soul soar in heaven,”he said.

After prayers and piper O’Brien’s rendition of Raglan Road, the words of Kinvara songwriter and poet Francis Fahy were recalled by his relative, Dr Michael Brogan:

Oh, ’tis sad in Dooris when the tide is low

And the green fields buried ’neath the frost and snow

And the dark night’s dreary with the curlew’s cry

And I’m thinkin’, thinkin’ of the days gone by...

As Dr Brogan broke into the final chorus, a number of voices joined in:

Oh the happy summers of the olden days

And the brown boats stealin’ through the golden haze

And the cuckoo callin’ from the woods within

And my love beside me and the tide full in...