State Funeral of Jack Lynch takes place in Cork

Saturday 23 October 1999 17.32
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Mourners lining the streets of Cork City
Mourners lining the streets of Cork City
The State Funeral of Jack Lynch
The State Funeral of Jack Lynch
Mairín Lynch
Mairín Lynch

The State Funeral of the former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, has taken place in his native Cork. Mr Lynch was buried at St Finbarre's Cemetery in the city. The funeral Mass was celebrated in the North Cathedral where Jack Lynch was baptised and christened 82 years ago and which in recent years, he had helped to renovate. The chief mourners - Mr Lynch's wife Mairín, his brother Finbar and sisters Eva Harvey and Rena Dunne – were joined by President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Tánaiste Mary Harney, Lord Mayor of Cork Damian Wallace, and members of the Cabinet. In his graveside oration, the former Progressive Democrat leader Des O'Malley said that Jack Lynch's legacy is the existence of the democratic state in which we live today.

The funeral began at midday with Requiem Mass at the North Cathedral, where Mr Lynch's body had arrived last night. Crowds gathered at the cathedral as people from all walks of life paid their last respects to one of the city's most famous sons. The diverse interests and achievements of the former Taoiseach were widely reflected through the congregation, with figures from political and sporting life present alongside senior members of the judiciary and the Christian churches. Former Taoisigh, as well as former President Patrick Hillery, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emily Dr Dermot Clifford and the President of the GAA, Joe McDonagh, were also present.

In his homily, the Bishop of Cork, Dr John Buckley, said Mr Lynch was a man who was proud of his roots and who would take his place in the pantheon of Irish leaders. The congregation broke into applause when Dr Buckley paid tribute to Mr Lynch's wife, Mairín. Dr Buckley recalled the many tributes which had been paid to Mr Lynch to record his contribution to the national life of this country, but said there was also a private person behind the political persona. Dr Buckley said Mr Lynch had never lost the "common touch and was always one of our own". He quoted from Liam Cosgrave, who said that Jack Lynch was the "most popular leader since Daniel O'Connell".

Dr Buckley also spoke of Mr Lynch's love for sport especially GAA, and paid tribute to the sportsman who won six all-Ireland medals in a row, but he singled out his work for peace in the North as the pinnacle of his achievements. Dr Buckley said that Mr Lynch was a man of peace and would hope for a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland conflict. Lastly, Dr Buckley said that Mr Lynch had not feared death, and that his faith had never shone more brightly than when facing his illness. Among the gifts brought to the altar were jerseys of the Cork, Glen Rovers and St Nicholas' GAA teams, a copy of the Constitution and two doves.

People lined the streets as an escort of honour brought the remains from the North Cathedral to St Finbarre's Cemetery. In his graveside oration, the former PD leader Des O'Malley said that Jack Lynch's legacy is the existence of the democratic state in which we live today. Mr O'Malley said, when confronted with some of the most difficult decisions to face any Taoiseach of the modern era, Mr Lynch took determined and resolute action to defend democracy and uphold the rule of law. He said for that alone Jack Lynch deserves his place in history. Mr O’Malley said he hoped “the life and career of this wonderful man and dear friend will inspire younger people to seek to follow his example and to be publicly generous of themselves at a time when the commitment of integrity is so badly needed”.

Television coverage of the funeral can be accessed at the RTE Online Special Website: Remembering Jack Lynch 1917-1999.