Michael Flatley has paid tribute to "the greatest mother in the world" at the funeral Mass for Elizabeth Flatley who died on December 28th, just over a year and a half after the death of her husband.
Mrs Flatley (81), who lived in Chicago but was originally from the Dranagh area of St Mullin's in Co Carlow, was buried at St Mullin's Cemetery after Mass in the nearby church of St Moling in Glynn.
Her husband, Michael snr, died in March 2015 at the age of 88 and while he was a native of Sligo, he was buried in St Mullin’s. It was Mrs Flatley’s wish to be buried with him when she died.
Her body was flown back to Ireland in recent days to fulfil her wish.
"They were in love for 60 years and now she's gone to be in his arms," the Lord of the Dance creator and star said in his eulogy, describing his mother as "the greatest mother in the world… so caring and giving and loving and generous, kind and warm", and a woman who always put others before herself.
“Any little bit of talent that any of us got or success that we ever achieved in this life, it’s from our parents. Without them we would have nothing and we would be nothing.”
He and his brother and sisters were blessed to have such parents, he said.
“We have met people from around the world: rock stars and music stars and presidents and kings and queens. I can tell you, hand on heart today, in front of God, I’ve never met a more elegant woman than our mom. We love you, Mom, and we’ll miss you terribly.”
Michael Flatley ended with a flute solo, playing two traditional Irish airs.
His sister Annie also paid tribute to “a very special lady” who was “kind and thoughtful, brilliant, elegant and classy, giving and forgiving” who may have left Ireland at the age of 14 but remained an Irish woman forever.
"You could take Elizabeth Ryan out of Dranagh but you would also have to take her home. Home to St Mullin's, Co Carlow, home to this beautiful church where she was baptised and made her First Holy Communion and was confirmed and where she buried her father and mother and her beloved husband. Sadly, today, it's Mom's turn to come home."
Elizabeth Ryan emigrated to the US from Co Carlow in 1947 with her parents, and later she and her husband started a plumbing company and had five children together: Michael, Patrick, Annie, Eliza and Thoma.
Joining the couple’s children at the funeral Mass were Elizabeth’s grandchildren, including Michael and wife Niamh’s son Michael St James, great-grandchildren, and other relatives, friends and neighbours.
Among the mourners were comedian Brendan Grace, Munster rugby coach and former New Zealand player Doug Howlett, publican Dave Egan, broadcaster Philip King, and musicians including singer Sean Costello, Gerard Fahy, and Matt Molloy of The Chieftains.
The Taoiseach was represented by his aide-de-camp, Comdt Kieran Carey.
Elizabeth Flatley was a regular visitor to her home parish and parish priest Fr Eddie Aughney remembered calling to her when she was home just six weeks ago. "She talked about her hopes to come back," he said, adding that Mrs Flatley spoke of her wish to end her days in Ireland and to visit next summer.