Innovative RTÉ star and PR guru Bunny Carr laid to rest

Mourners at funeral Mass told of enduring devotion to wife Joan who died 13 years ago

Bunny Carr’s final journey: Mass at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton, was followed by burial at St Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Bunny Carr’s final journey: Mass at St Fintan’s Church, Sutton, was followed by burial at St Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Bunny Carr was a pioneering broadcaster and the effective founder of modern media training in Ireland but the central narrative of his life was a love story, his funeral heard on Saturday.

The broadcaster remained deeply in love with his wife Joan until the day he died despite her predeceasing him by 13 years, Fr Liam Lacey told mourners in St Fintan’s Church, Sutton, Co Dublin.

Carr first met his wife at Sutton Tennis Club when she hit a ball on to the roof and he retrieved it. She invited him to go swimming and they were together ever since, said his son Alan.

In the 1960s she contracted polio during the epidemic which swept the country. But she survived, although confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

She and I decided we would live the rest of our lives to the full

“When Bunny talked about this he said, ‘I was sad that Joan would never dance again, would never sail again, never play tennis or walk on the cliffs in Howth again. But I was so happy she survived. She and I decided we would live the rest of our lives to the full,’ ” said Alan.

“And they did. Bunny and Joan travelled the world together, they were inseparable. Joan got sick again in her seventies as a result of post-polio syndrome. She died in 2005. Bunny never really got over that. In one way he was happy he was there to care for her to the very end of her life,” said Alan.

He recalled his father had previously suffered a heart attack and cancer diagnoses and was worried he would die before Joan.

The joy went out of his life after her death and he used dark humour to deal with his grief. Alan said Bunny joked that he doubted he would be allowed into heaven, but that Joan would sneak him in a side gate while St Peter was on his tea break.

“His was the story of an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life,” said Alan. “But most of all it’s a love story. It’s a story of a man whose wife survived polio and who then treasured every moment of their lives together. Most of all it’s a love story about Bunny and Joan who are together again.”

Mourners including politicians, broadcasters and representatives for the Taoiseach and President heard that Carr was probably best known for the Quicksilver game show which ran on RTÉ for 16 years and was responsible for introducing the phrase, “stop the lights!” into the Irish lexicon.

The show was also well known for the amusing answers to questions from its contestants, some of which were recounted at the service. One woman, when asked by Carr the first name of Gandi, replied “Goosey Goosey”. Another contestant maintained Hitler’s first name was “Heil”.

He was most proud of a documentary he did on the famine in Tanzania

But Carr was also involved in dozens of other shows in the early days of television, including the pioneering Teentalk which asked young people for their views on often controversial matters like contraception and divorce. Several well-known names in Irish life made their TV debut on the show, including Vincent Browne and Terry Prone.

He was most proud of a documentary he did on the famine in Tanzania which helped raise money to alleviate the suffering there and led to his work with the charity Gorta.

In 1973 he established Carr Communications which introduced American-style PR and media training into Irish political live. He advised six taoisigh and many ministers and business leaders. Such was his company’s reach that it would often advise the government and the opposition at the same time.

Carr’s health started failing towards the end of his life but he was still engaging and talkative, a style which helped him so much in his broadcasting career, said Fr Lacey.

“Such was his style that I would often have to break into conversation with him on my visits to get down to the real business of saying prayers and offering Holy Communion.”

Bunny Carr is survived by his three children, 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.