President says Buckley a ‘woman of extraordinary courage’

Mourners told of a tiny voice amid the denials who represented ‘the power of one against many’


Christine Buckley was “a woman of extraordinary courage,” President Michael D Higgins said after her funeral in Dublin this morning.

Speaking after the service at the Church of St Therese in Dublin’s Mount Merrion, which he attended, the president said: “it was appropriate to pay tribute to a figure of such moral strength and purpose.”

He had attended the funeral “to honour her courage”, recalling “the darkness she broke open with the light of her own experience.”

On arrival at the church earlier her remains were received by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, President of Blackrock College, Fr Cormac Ó Brolcháin, and parish administrator Fr Tony Coote.

Archbishop Martin welcomed “our great friend Christine Buckley, her immediate family and the huge family she helped.”

In his homily Fr Coote recalled how she had been “a tiny voice amid the clamour of denial and denunciation” who came to represent “the power of one against many.”

He recalled how people did tell their stories “but no one believed” and that “perhaps belief is her greatest legacy.” She, he said, “gave everything she had. It is a powerful way to live.”

He concluded with Late Fragment, a short poem by Raymond Carver:

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

In a tribute Ms Buckley’s sister Cynthia Emienike said that “behind her tenacity and her public pursuit of justice was a humble, loving, compassionate, caring and faithful” woman.

“We were really privileged to have had Christine as a sister.”

At the end of the Mass, her son Conor said she had wanted a party not a funeral and he wondered how he could “do justice to the scale of what she had achieved in her lifetime.”

He said the Aislinn centre in Dublin was “her pride and joy.

“She is looking down from heaven today happy to see so many of your here.”

“She was ‘my Mom, my first love, my hero, my best friend’.

They even “went on holidays together”. There were always hugs, “since I can remember.

“As a child I would run away from her hugs. My family and I adored her.”

He paid tribute to the Martin family “who gave her hope, belief and love” as a girl and had wanted to adopt her.

“Mom and Dad had a great partnership and would do anything for their three babies.

And he recalled the rugby match where he had been tackled and “she ran over and attacked the guy with an umbrella and said ‘leave my baby alone.’ I had just turned 22 at the time.”

Darragh Buckley recalled coming home from primary school one day where he and Conor were being given a hard time over their “crazy Afro” hair and he had said to her “why can’t be like everyone else” and she had replied “you can’t be like everyone else because you are special.”

He recalled her death at 5am last Tuesday morning and how “my head was blurry” and he cried.

A friend Niall McDonald rang from Australia and sympathised, then said “she’s probably gate-crashed Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix by now.”

His mother had, he said “a fantastic sense of humour. It was infectious.”

Chief mourners were husband Donal, their children Cliona, Darragh and Conor, the Martin family, Carmel McDonnell Byrne, sisters Cynthia Emenike and Ure Kalunta, attendees at the Aislinn centre, many people who had been in residential institutions as children, and former residents of Magdalene laundries.

Among the overflow attendance were, Cmdt Kieran Carey representing the Taoiseach, Dr James Reilly representing the Government and former Attorney General John Rogers.