Michael McCoy had a ‘strong sense of right and wrong’

Hundreds attend the funeral of the conservationist who died after being attacked on the Dublin Mountains


Environmental campaigner Michael McCoy lived a principled life and had a strong sense of right and wrong, mourners at his funeral were told.

Hundreds of people attended the service at St Maelruain’s Church in Tallaght, Co Dublin on Saturday for the Brittas builder and conservationist who died after being attacked in the Dublin mountains.

Mr McCoy’s wife Caitríona and daughters Rachel, Suzanne and Sarah were the chief mourners at the service in the small church which was packed to overflowing with many people listening to the Church of Ireland service outside.

His nephew Shoni McCoy said the 63-year-old loved the outdoors and he and family members climbed mountains across Ireland.

He said “Michael lived a principled life with a strong sense of right and wrong”, and he cared enough about issues “to take a stand”.

Describing his uncle as hardworking, he recalled working with him on many building projects, “especially when he built his own house”.

“Michael loved music and was a great guitar player. Not happy with just playing guitars, he also made his own,” he said.

“He was the life and soul of every party, the last to leave the party but the first to rise the next morning for to get out for an early walk and put younger ones to shame.”

He also spoke of his uncle’s love for animals and particularly for dogs.

Mr McCoy’s body was found in the early morning of September 30th close to a forest track in a wooded area at Ballinascorney Hill near Brittas and his boxer dog Sophie had stayed by his side. His second boxer Fia was missing.

Mr McCoy’s brother-in-law Daniel Kelly spoke of his passion for the environment and his tireless work to protect the special habitat of the Dublin Mountains.

Mr McCoy was a member of the Dublin Mountain Conservation Group, who raised objections to a large number of developments in the Dublin Mountains.

Mr Kelly said his brother-in-law worked “on a smaller canvas” but was like environmentalists in South America Chico Mendes and Barbara Caceres who were killed for their activism.

He said “these were people who like Mike went against the grain. They went against low standards, crookedness and corruption. “

In his address Mr Kelly said “a former colleague of mine said the Irish have no sense of outrage. If this doesn’t outrage us what will. If this doesn’t jolt our community and our country out of its stupor in relation to environmental issues especially, what will?”

He also described Mr McCoy as a man of many talents who enjoyed an argument and “he never was a man to mind being in a minority of one”.

The 63-year-old had enrolled in university as a mature student. He completed a degree in Irish Studies in June and Mr Kelly said a senior Trinity College tutor stated that “on the roll call of the alumni of this college his name will shine out”.

Canon William Deverell, who officiated at the service, said “we are deeply indebted to him in this church”.

Describing Mr McCoy as a deep thinker and great conversationalist, he said he had carried out a lot of work on St Maelruain’s church and on the homes of many of its parishioners.

Canon Deverell said the prophets of the Old Testament warned society of the consequences of taking a particular route.

“Michael had the bearing of a prophet” and he said to some laughter “it occurred to me he had the appearance of one”.

During the service Mr McCoy’s nephew Adrian Foster, a member of the US military quoted a speech from Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra.

His sister-in-law recited a poem about trees which his daughters had chosen as encapsulating his attitude to nature, beginning:

“Whosoever plants a tree, winks at immortality.”

After the service Mr McCoy was buried in the adjoining cemetery.