Funeral of actor Susan Fitzgerald told of her serenity facing death

Priest recalls an ‘extraordinary’ person

Actor John Kavanagh at  the funeral of Susan Fitzgerald  at the Church of The Three Patrons, Rathgar, Dublin, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Actor John Kavanagh at the funeral of Susan Fitzgerald at the Church of The Three Patrons, Rathgar, Dublin, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 



The actor Susan Fitzgerald, who died last Monday, had no fear of dying and had sympathised with the doctor who had to tell her she had little time left, her funeral service in Dublin was told today.

Fr Leonard Moloney told a crowded Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, Dublin, that she contacted him last June and said she would like him to “celebrate my funeral”.

He recalled her “reflecting on the fact that she was dying, reflecting acceptance”. She was “an extraordinary” person.

In a tribute to his former wife, Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan spoke of the “grace, elegance and style,” with which she had addressed her cancer. Staff who looked after her had said it was a privilege to know her. When the consultant told her she had little time left, she responded: “You poor thing, having to give me that bad news.”

Sarah Colgan said their mother “taught all three of us what it is to love unconditionally”. She had given them “the gift of great confidence”, but when they found out in May 2011 she had cancer, their world was crushed. Yet there was “never any anger or hint of self pity” on their mother’s part.

Richard Colgan said his mother “taught us to see the world through empathetic eyes”. The overwhelming support the family had received since her death was her legacy to the family.

Chief mourners were her children, her former husband Michael, her sisters and brothers Rosie, Michael, Peter, Alex and Anna, and granddaughter Emily. President Michael D Higgins was represented by Cmdt Tony Whelan.

Among those at the funeral were playwrights Tom Murphy and Brian Friel; authors Joe O’Connor, Paul Howard, Declan Hughes; poets Micheál Ó Siadhail, Hugh McFadden; directors Garry Hynes, Patrick Mason, Moya Doherty, Michael Scott, Donald Taylor Black; Fiach Mac Conghail of the Abbey; actors Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, Stephen Rea, Marie Mullen, Seán McGinley, John Kavanagh, Bosco Hogan, Arthur Riordan, John Olohan, Gerry McSorley, Mark O’Halloran, Bill Golding, Owen Roe, Ingrid Craigie, Ali White, Jonathan White; also Gay Byrne, Kathleen Watkins, Paul McGuinness, Harry Crosby, Kevin Reynolds and Jeananne Crowley.

Also there were Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris, Denis Staunton and Paddy Smyth of The Irish Times, and retired journalist Mike Burns.