Sunday, April 13, 2008

Funeral for former President Hillery

Former president Dr Patrick Hillery, who died yesterday at the age of 84, will receive a full State funeral on Wednesday, with a funeral Mass to be held at noon. Members of the public will have an opportunity to file past the coffin and pay their respects until 10pm Tuesday. A couple of my mates want to go, but I am still debating about going. I usually don't go up to the coffins at funerals because I want to remember the person alive. I don't want my last memory of that person to be in a coffin. So I am still debating on whether I will go and at this point I don't think I shall. But I will go with them to sign the Book of Condolence.

Dr Hillery’s remains will be brought to the Pro Cathedral in Dublin on Tuesday at 4pm for a removal service, prior to a funeral Mass on Wednesday at which President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will read.

After the service, a funeral cortege, escorted by a marching military company and band will proceed via Beresford Place where the band and marching escort will fall out and be replaced by a military motorcycle escort of honour. The cortege will continue via Amiens Street, North Strand Road and Clontarf Road to St Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton where Dr Hillery will be buried with his daughter Vivienne who died in 1987.

Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader-designate Brian Cowen, at the request of the family, will deliver the graveside oration, after which full military honours will be rendered.
Books of Condolence will be opened in the following locations from tomorrow: the Pro Cathedral, Mansion House Dublin, Ennis Library, Paddy Hillery Library, Miltown Malbay and the County Council headquarter in Ennis. Dr Hillery served two terms as president between 1976 and 1990.

His long and distinguished career in public life began in 1951 when he was elected alongside Éamon de Valera as a Fianna Fáil TD for Clare.

He served the constituency for 21 years prior to becoming Ireland's first EEC Commissioner in 1973 and then president in 1976.

He held a number of ministerial posts (Education, Industry and Commerce, Labour and Foreign Affairs) in several Fianna Fáil-led administrations.

Mrs McAleese led tributes to him yesterday, saying he had “made an enormous contribution to this country at key times in the vital and necessary development of this State”.

Mr Ahern said: “In volatile political times, he was a cool head, who exercised his powers wisely, and assiduously protected the independence of Ireland’s highest office.”

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