Tuesday 25 October 2016

Hundreds pay their respects to Gravediggers' 'unique' publican Eugene


Eugene Kavanagh and Conor Feehan
Eugene Kavanagh and Conor Feehan

Legendary publican Eugene Kavanagh was remembered as "a racehorse owner who didn't gamble, a publican who didn't drink and a marathon runner who would light up a cigarette just before the start of the race", at his funeral at St Columba's Church yesterday morning.

Hundreds gathered in the dreary rain to pay their final respects to the sixth generation owner of the Gravediggers pub in Glasnevin.

Mr Kavanagh (76) passed away at Bon Secours Hospital on Friday following a battle with cancer.

The funeral service, led by parish priest Fr Paddy Jones, was filled with anecdotes as mourners heard of Eugene's love for horse racing and his commitment to the Gravediggers pub.


Chief mourners included his wife Kathleen and his children Anthony, Anne, Eoin, Ciaran, Sinead and Niall, who was described as "his best pal".

Fr Jones told the congregation how "this was Eugene's parish", the church he had been baptised in, the place he wed his wife Kathleen and finally the church that would hold his funeral service.

In a moving eulogy, Eugene's eldest son Anthony described his father as "unique", adding that his family were "proud" of all of his accomplishments throughout his 76 years.

These included taking over the Gravediggers and "turning it into what it is today", running over 170 marathons and "playing five-a-side well into his 60s".

Kavanagh started working at the Gravediggers following his career with the Guinness brewery. Opened in 1833, he protected its 19th-century character by banning televisions, radio and piped music.

The family also thanked the sisters and staff at the Bon Secours Hospital for the care they showed Eugene in the past few weeks.

Among Eugene's athletics accomplishments were completing the Dublin marathon in four hours, finishing the Boston marathon in three hours and 15 seconds and running a marathon through Mount Everest when he was in his 50s.

"He was proud that he was a racehorse owner who didn't gamble. He was proud that he was a publican who didn't drink," Anthony Kavanagh remarked.

"But he relished the fact that he was a marathon runner who would light up a cigarette just before the start of the race," Eugene's son added.

"And, finally, he was most proud of his family. As a family, we were proudly introduced as the wife's six children.

"Dad told me a long time ago that the best thing that ever happened to him was meeting a beautiful Yorkshire lass. He was proud of how she reared our family.

"So that's it, that's my dad. The race is run," Anthony added.

"Dad, we're all proud of you."

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