Thursday 27 October 2016

Family joined by 'three amigos' in farewell to much-loved Bill

bill o'herlihy 1938-2015

He was "the best dad" and was his children's best friend; a brilliant granddad and "the most caring, loyal and wonderful husband".

Never a great one for technology, he miraculously got the hang of text messaging once he got hold of Ronan O'Gara's number and frequently dispatched analysis to him on his rugby performance.

This was the off-camera Bill O'Herlihy that his adored wife Hillary and daughters Sally and Jill knew and loved.

The walls of his home were hung with photographs of happy family occasions and not his numerous broadcasting awards.

These snippets in the ordinary life of the iconic TV broadcaster did not make it into our living rooms - but were the most precious moments that his family will treasure forever.

He sadly passed away on Tuesday aged 76.

As the flags outside RTE flew at half-mast, Bill's "three amigos," sorrowfully gathered together to carry the remains of their great compadre and referee from the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Dublin's Foxrock.

Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady and John Giles were sombre-faced as they helped to carry the coffin from the packed church with mourners led by President Michael D Higgins and Aide de Camp to the Taoiseach, Kieran Carey.


Bill's good friend and chief celebrant Fr Tom O'Keeffe of Cabinteely parish said the two great pillars of Mr O'Herlihy's life were "faith and family," as he praised his "goodness, generosity, infectious joy and integrity".

When he was forced to leave RTE's current affairs department in the 1970s after exposing illegal moneylenders, he felt the "hand of God" directing him towards the sports department where he "flourished".

There was laughter in the church as Fr O' Keeffe referred to RTE's soccer panel as Bill's "dysfunctional family, the three amigos".

A prayer of the faithful was said by Mr Dunphy that gifts and talents would be used to make the world a better place, while Mr Giles prayed that the memories of Mr O'Herlihy would be a source of comfort and strength.

Meanwhile Bill's daughters Jill and Sally paid a moving tribute to their father.

Sally said the family were "utterly shocked and heartbroken but overwhelmed" by the outpouring of friendship, the "kindness, strength and memories" being sent their way.

Jill described magical bedtime stories he told them as a child, which always had a moral.

And then with great sadness, they said a last farewell.

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