Funeral of ex-Labour TD Frank Prendergast held

Labour TD represented Limerick East from 1982 to 1987 and served as Limerick mayor

Frank Prendergast TD (Labour) at the New Ireland Forum  in May 1983. File photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times

Frank Prendergast TD (Labour) at the New Ireland Forum in May 1983. File photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times

 

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was among those who attended the funeral in Limerick on Monday of former Labour TD Frank Prendergast.

The 81-year-old died following a battle with cancer last Thursday.

Mr Prendergast was a Labour TD for Limerick East from 1982 to 1987 and he also served two terms as mayor of Limerick city.

Packed cathedral

Hundreds of mourners packed St John’s Cathedral for Monday’s funeral Mass, which was also attended by the Taoiseach’s aide-de-camp, Cmdt Kieran Carey, Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan, Fine Gael Deputy Kieran O’Donnell and Mayor of Limerick Cllr Kevin Sheahan.

The sporting world was represented by renowned GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

The blue and white flag from Garryowen Rugby Club,which Mr Prendergast’s family founded, was draped over his coffin.

In his homily, chief celebrant Fr Todd Morrissey, who was assisted at the altar by 18 priests, recalled the late mayor’s great love of music, literature and the Irish language, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of history.

The 81-year-old’s spontaneity and love of singing was remembered when he burst into song after he was elected mayor in Limerick for the first time.

Sad journey

Mourners were told how the well-known historian even sang in the car on the sad journey home from St James’s Hospital in Dublin after he was told he had cancer.

A staunch trade unionist, Mr Prendergast was regional secretary of the ITGWU, and secretary of Siptu in Limerick.

In a eulogy, his son Conor Prendergast recalled his father’s incredible ability to remember facts, and told of how one mourner compared the death to the closure of a library.

‘Encyclopaedic brain’

“He had an encyclopaedic brain and an incredibly ability to remember facts. One woman said to me at the removal that a library closed on Thursday night when your Dad passed.

“He could trot out facts at will - and you could never pass a place and he would have something in his mind about it.”

Mourners heard how, despite having left school at age 13 after his mother died, the late Mr Prendergast had maintained a passion for learning and education and graduated with a Masters in Industrial Relations from Keale University when aged 60.

Mr Prendergast is survived by his wife Mary, sons Conor and Eoghan and daughters Orla and Aedin.

He was laid to rest in Kilmurry cemetery.