Ireland bids farewell to ‘Garret the Good’

The funeral of former Taoiseach  Dr. Garret FitzGerald takes place at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
The funeral of former Taoiseach Dr. Garret FitzGerald takes place at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
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The Irish President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Enda Kenny led mourners yesterday at the funeral for former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald.

The state funeral for the politician, journalist and economist who led two governments in the 1980s took place at the Sacred Heart Church in south Dublin.

Chief celebrant was Father Enda McDonagh, a lifelong friend of Dr FitzGerald.

The former taoiseach’s remains were brought to the chapel in Donnybrook on Saturday night after lying in repose in the Mansion House in Dublin.

His coffin was draped in the Irish Tricolour with a bible and cross resting on top.

Prayers of the faithful were read by four of his grandchildren Garret, Doireann, Aoife and Ciara and also former president and human rights campaigner Mary Robinson and Peter Barry, former deputy leader of Dr FitzGerald’s Fine Gael party.

Tributes poured in from international leaders and past colleagues from the worlds of politics, business and entertainment following the death of the former Fine Gael leader last Thursday. He was 85 and had suffered a short illness.

Also present were former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen.

A constant stream of people filed past the open coffin and signed books of condolence as it lay in repose in the Mansion House.

Dr FitzGerald, who helped negotiate the Anglo-Irish Agreement which instituted closer ties between Britain and Ireland, died just hours after the Queen delivered a historic reconciliation speech in Dublin Castle, made possible by the 1985 accord. Books of condolence have been opened in Cork and other cities in Ireland.

He will be buried alongside his wife Joan, who died in 1999, at Shanganagh cemetery in Shankill.

Mrs McAleese described Mr FitzGerald as the Renaissance man of our time and a national treasure. Flags were flying at half mast on all government buildings until after the funeral.

Referred to as “Garret the Good” by colleagues and opponents alike, before entering politics, Dr FitzGerald established himself as one of Ireland’s best-known economists.

When he first became taoiseach in 1981 critics hit out at his intellectualism while cartoonists pictured him as something between a whizz-kid and an absent-minded professor.