Mourners gather to pay last respects to Ray Treacy

Stars of the sporting world attend funeral of former soccer international in Kilmacud

Mourners at the funeral of former Ireland international soccer player Ray Treacy were asked to smile one more time for a man held dear in the world of sport and beyond.

Mr Tracey, who died last Friday aged 68, was remembered at a packed funeral mass in the Church of St Laurence O'Toole, Kilmacud, south Dublin, his coffin passing a crowd interspersed with the green and white of his former club Shamrock Rovers.

His two sons Gary and John delivered the eulogy, celebrating a treasured family and sporting life with humour, gratitude and affection in equal measure.

“I closed my eyes and thought about how he would want to be remembered. I knew instantly it was simple: a loving husband, a brilliant dad, an amazing granddad and a great friend,” said Gary, gently and lovingly ribbing his father for his playing days, and paying tribute to his decades as father and friend.


“I never saw Ray play football but I have been told many times that he was a hard nut. I always told him I couldn’t imagine it as he was far too short and he was always crying at family weddings and gatherings,” he joked to an appreciative congregation.

He spoke of him as a man who shielded his family from the full rigours of his illness and who found it difficult to accept affection as his illness took hold.

“As Ray would most definitely want, it is important today to remember the good times and celebrate his life instead of dwelling on the feeling of sadness.”

Mr Treacy, whose sporting career spanned 13 years with 42 caps for his country, died following a short illness. At club level he wore the shirts of Home Farm in Ireland, and later across the Irish Sea with West Brom, Charlton, Swindon and Preston. He joined Shamrock Rovers in the late 1970s.

Such a marked sporting life was reflected in today's attendance: Johnny Giles, Eamon Dunphy and former Ireland manager Brian Kerr among the swelling crowd.

Other faces in the world of football and sport included former Ireland Under-21 manager Don Givens, ex-Shamrock Rovers player Robbie Gaffney, Liam Brady, former Tipperary hurler Michael 'Babs' Keating, Pat Hickey of the Olympic Council of Ireland and Fran Gavin, director of the League of Ireland.

“Through the tears we have become closer and stronger,” his son John said in his eulogy.

To the laughter to the church, he said he knew his father would be smiling down at the fact “that so many people he disliked are here today” before quickly adding: “Of course I’m joking. To me, dad seemed to get on with everybody.”

He said his final days in palliative care, surrounded by his family, were often “oddly enjoyable”.

“We laughed through the tears as he struggled on to the bitter end,” he said. “Today is a time to be happy that we had all these years with him.”

So, he said at the end, as the remains of his father left them for the last time, “please try and smile at him even if you feel the tears falling away.”

Mr Treacy is survived by his wife Jenny and children Lisa, Karen, John and Gary.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times