herald

Friday 9 December 2016

'Passionate, insightful and funny' - tributes as friends honour Herald legend George Byrne

Christy Dignam & Billy McGuinness from Aslan at the funeral of Journalist George (John) Byrne at St. Nicholas of Myra Church Francis Street, Dublin
George Byrne
Independent News and Media Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae, Managing Editor Michael Denieffe and herald editor Alan Steenson at the funeral mass of journalist John 'George' Byrne at Saint Nicholas of Myra Church in Francis Street, Dublin.
Aide de Camp to the Preident of Ireland Patricia Butler at the funeral mass of journalist John 'George' Byrne at Saint Nicholas of Myra Church in Francis Street
Michael and Kay Byrne at the funeral mass of their son journalist John 'George' Byrne at Saint Nicholas of Myra Church in Francis Street, Dublin.
Eamonn Carr at the funeral mass of journalist John 'George' Byrne at Saint Nicholas of Myra Church in Francis Street, Dublin.
The remains of George Byrne leave St. Nicholas of Myra Church during his funeral on Francis Street, Dublin.
Ray D'Arcy at the funeral of Journalist George (John) Byrne at St. Nicholas of Myra Church Francis Street, Dublin
Kay Byrne mother of George Byrne at the funeral of Journalist George (John) Byrne at St. Nicholas of Myra Church Francis Street, Dublin
Niall Stokes at the funeral of Journalist George (John) Byrne at St. Nicholas of Myra Church Francis Street, Dubli
A Photo Mosiac of George Byrne at the funeral of Journalist George (John) Byrne at St. Nicholas of Myra Church Francis Street, Dublin

The wit, passion, and fearless criticism that made George Byrne a legend in his profession were recalled at his funeral yesterday.

Music, stories and laughter punctuated the final farewell to the much-loved journalist at Saint Nicholas of Myra Church in The Liberties.

Herald film critic John 'George' Byrne died last Thursday, aged 56. The huge attendance applauded broadcaster Tom Dunne for his fulsome tribute to his close friend and fellow musician.

He spoke of a 36-year friendship from their days as young musicians. George was a bass guitarist with Autobop and with The Gorehounds while Tom went on to be vocalist with Something Happens.

Up until his death, George was a regular Thursday night guest talking about movies on Tom's show on Newstalk radio.

"George was a fountain of knowledge about music, film and pop culture. His writing was passionate, insightful, informed and very funny," he said.

There was laughter when he referred to George being "famously argumentative" as he "liked a row" and loved being provocative when it came to sacred cows.

gentleness

"But I loved him for his beautiful gentleness and his childlike excitement in the little things," he said.

"I was proud to know George, proud of his big brain, proud of his insights, his great taste, and his ability to see the wood for the trees."

Tom later sang his pal's favourite song God Only Knows by the Beach Boys.

Paul McLoone of The Undertones sang Teenage Kicks and Billy Kilkenny and Michael Kenny sang Bring Him Home.

Fr Michael Mernagh extended his sympathy to George's parents, Michael and Kay, sister Andrea, girlfriend Julie, relatives and friends. He extended a special welcome to Lt Commander Patricia Butler, who represented President Michael D Higgins as his aide de camp.

The priest said he was moved by the many tributes in newspapers and quoted a phrase by Independent Newspapers managing editor Michael Denieffe who wrote "a star in the heavens of genuine talent and character has fallen".

A ceremony of farewell was held later at Mount Jerome Crematorium.

Among the legions of friends from the music world attending were Paul Cleary, vocalist and bass player with George's favourite band The Blades, Robbie Foy, Christy Dignam of Aslan, Thomas Walsh of Pugwash, Pete Holidai and Steve Averill of The Radiators From Space, Brian O'Kelly of The Gorehounds, Simon Carmody, and Seamus 'Smiley' Bolger.

Among the many journalist colleagues were Stephen Rae, Editor-in-Chief of Independent Newspapers, Alan Steenson, Editor of The Herald, Ian Mallon, Group Head of Content at INM, Michael Denieffe, managing editor of Independent Newspapers, Claire Grady, former editor of the Irish Independent and the Herald, Ian O'Doherty, RTE's Ray D'Arcy, Niall Stokes of Hot Press and many others.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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