Hundreds attend funeral of two elderly brothers

Taoiseach Enda Kenny among mourners at funeral of Jack and Tom Blaine in Castlebar, Co Mayo, today

 The remains of murdered brothers Tom and Jack Blaine are carried from The Church Of The Holy Rosary after funeral mass in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, by family members today. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus

The remains of murdered brothers Tom and Jack Blaine are carried from The Church Of The Holy Rosary after funeral mass in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, by family members today. Photograph: Keith Heneghan/Phocus


“Around the town he laid kisses,

Soft and wet they glistened on windows and doorframes,

They were his gifts, each one a puckered blessing,

Bent into a swirl he shuffled from street to street,

A daily routine threaded into his soul like breadcrumbs....”

Jack Blaine (76) was known as a man who loved to touch door handles and kiss windows. For those who knew him and his younger sibling Tom (69), the words written by Clodagh O’Brien captured not one, but two lives perfectly.

And so, as Theresa Dunne began to read the verse dedicated to Jack at the funeral mass for the two brothers in Castlebar’s Church of the Holy Rosary today, she and the many around her struggled to hold back tears.

“New Antrim Street was his home,

A small haven with an open door,

Where he watched his world go by,

Everyone knew him,

Locals greeted him with a nod, often finding his eyes lost in the job of kissing....”

Fr Michael Farragher, curate at the Church of the Holy Rosary, endeavoured to encapsulate the atmosphere among the hundreds in the congregation - which included Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The curate recalled how last Tuesday evening, he had been walking around the Mayo town when he noticed that traffic lights were not working and thought it was a power failure. He arrived back at the church and heard that the lights were “out all over...”

“Little did we know that within 12 hours, the town would be overshadowed by another darkness,”he said, recalling how he heard last Wednesday that both Blaine brothers had suffered violent deaths in their New Antrim Street home.

“Since that morning, this parish has been engulged by horror, shock, disbelief and fear,” Fr Farragher said.

Noting how many tributes had been paid to the brothers over the last few days,he recalled the kindness and compassion shown by many to the two men - by their cousins, home care team, doctors, neighbours.

People recognised their special needs and “looked out for them”, he said. A colleague of his attached to the hospital had got to know both men when they had moved out of their home temporarily, and recalled how they had cared for one another, and how “Jack might wander off, but Tom kept a close eye”.

A haunting rendition of Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone was delivered on tin whistle by Dawn Doherty, followed by The Cualann.

Paul Dunne, cousin of the two men, gave a brief address.

He said he would like to thank neighbours, those who closed businesses out of respect, the Garda, Michael “Rocky” Moran and his staff in the pub where Jack had been given countless cups of tea.

“The town knows...I don’t need to well these people were treated, especially by Rocky and his staff,”Mr Dunne said, to sustained applause.

Gifts placed among the floral tributes included a model Vintage car made of wood, symbolising Jack Blaine’s love of cars, a Child of Prague symbolising his faith and a mug representing the many cups of tea and coffee he had enjoyed. Gifts for his brother Tom included a set of Rosary beads and a bag bearing fruit, as he did the shopping.

Mayor of Castlebar Noreen Heston, former EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn and Fianna Fáil former junior minister Dara Calleary were among those who paid respects, as the two coffins were carried out from the church to two hearses and traffic in the town came to a halt.

Concelebrants with Fr Farragher were retired auxiliary Bishop John Dunne from the US, who has links with the brother’s original home in Crimlin village, Fr Michael Nohilly, Fr Martin Jennings, Fr Charlie McDonnell, Fr John Kenny, Fr Michael Murphy, Fr John McCormack, Deacon Sean Flynn and Fr John Cosgrove.

Dozens of people from all parts of Mayo and as far north as Donegal fell in behind the men’s cousins as they followed the two hearses on foot, pausing at their home in New Antrim Street where many flowers had been laid. The cortege then continued to New Cemetery, where the indivisible pair who had returned home from England to look after their mother Delia, were laid in the earth by her side.