‘Wonderful Irish mother’ Bernie Guerin praised at funeral

Journalist daughter Veronica was murdered by gang in 1996

The death of Bernie Guerin (84) meant "the passing of another wonderful Irish mother," said Fr Michael O'Grady at her funeral Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in Dublin's Artane this morning.

It was the case, he said that frequently “we look for heroes in all the wrong places.” Frequently real heroes y were people who “did ordinary things extraordinaryily well. Bernie was such a hero,” Fr O’Grady said.

Ms Guerin, who died on January 15th, was the mother of late Sunday Independent journalist Veronica who was murdered in Dublin by a criminal gang in 1996.

He recalled how when her husband Chris died relatively young in 1981 “she battled on and then Veronica was murdered in 1996...her death really shattered Bernie. No mother should have to mourn her daughter. Then there was the manner of her death”. So many “from that time kept up a friendship with Bernie in the years that followed.”


Family and faith were the pillars of her life, he said. "She was Catholic with a capital 'c' and viewed with suspicion many of the changes following Vatican II," he said. "It helped her carry her many crosses, especially the death of Veronica." She was "a woman who loved God and her neighbour." He ended with the concluding lines from a poem The Trimmings of the Rosary.

Ah, those little Irish mothers passing from us one by one!

Who will write the noble story of the good that they have done?

All their children may be scattered, and their fortunes windwards hurled,

But the Trimmin’s on the Rosary will bless them round the world.

Martin Guerin said that what his mother wanted at her funeral Mass was "simplicity, and what Mom wanted Mom got." He thanked Fr O'Grady for "painting a complete picture" of his mother.

He welcomed in particular his nephew Cathal, Veonica's son, who had come from Dubai for the funeral and thanked retired Garda Assistant Commissioner Tony Hickey, the late Sunday Independent editor Aenghus Fanning the second anniversary of whose death is today, Sunday Independent deputy editor Willie Kealy, RTE's Seán O'Rourke, and Liam Collins, also of the Sunday Independent "who were there for my Mom long after" Veronica's death. He also thanked Dr Sheehan and the team at Tralee general hospital who had looked after his mother in her final days.

Speaking to The Irish Times after the Mass, Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris described Bernie Guerin as “an incredible woman with an incredible spirit. She never got over Veronica. It was very clear where Veronica got her spirit from, invincible, indomitable.”

The funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr O'Grady, assisted by Fr Tom Curran. Chief mourners were her surviving children Martin, Marie-Therese, Clare, Jimmy, her sister Pauline, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandson.

Among the attendance were Anne Harris, Willie Kealy, Liam Collins from the Sunday Independent, Lise Hand and Paul Williams from the Irish Independent, Seamus Dooley of the NUJ, RTE's Joe Duffy, Sean Haughey, Conor Haughey, and Dr Michael Woods.

Burial was at St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times