herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Sport and media stars unite in final farewell to icon 'who brought racing to the masses'

RTE's Siun Nic Gearailt. Photo:Arthur Carron/Collins
RTE's Siun Nic Gearailt. Photo:Arthur Carron/Collins

THE worlds of sport and media united to bid farewell to RTE broadcaster Colm Murray today.

The 61-year-old racing pundit died on Monday after a three-year battle with motor neurone disease.

The family of the Westmeath native were supported by friends, colleagues and neighbours as his remains were brought to St Gabriel's Church in Dollymount in north Dublin from his home in Clontarf this morning.

His wife Ann and daughters Patricia and Kate accompanied his remains as he left the family home.

Comedian Gary Cooke was one of the first to arrive at the church at 11am along with the Taoiseach's aide-de-camp Commandant Michael Tracy.

Friends

RTE stalwarts Eileen Dunne, David Davin Power, Miriam O'Callaghan, Marty Morrisey and Sean O'Rourke all turned out to pay their respects.

Other stars who worked with Colm at the station - including Jimmy Magee, Ann Doyle and Charlie Bird - were also in attendance.

And presenter Joe Duffy arrived with director general Noel Curran as well as rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll.

Fr Jimmy Murray, a Carmelite priest from Colm's home town of Moate, delivered the homily and the mass was concelebrated by Fr Pat McManus, parish priest at St Gabriel's Church.

President Michael D Higgins, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and former TD Sean Haughey were also at the church this morning.

Tributes

At a wake in his Clontarf home last night, tributes were paid to the broadcaster and veteran of Montrose.

Former colleague Charlie Bird said the Westmeath native was a brilliant colleague and also paid tribute to his late sister Cathy, a fellow employee at the State broadcaster who died suddenly earlier this year.

"They were just two of the most remarkable people you could ever meet.

"For him to go on Galway Race week is incredibly fitting for a man so passionate about horses," he said.

Another RTE colleague, Darren Frehill, recalled how Colm was of great help to him throughout his career, but particularly when he was beginning his career in sports journalism.

"I remember back in 1999 at one of the very first press conferences I attended," he said.

"Colm was the very first person to come up to me and said if there was ever anything he could do for me, to just ask. That was Colm.

"He was a father figure to us all in the RTE sports department and a one-off.

"We're all deeply saddened by the news," he added.

Cabinet ministers also visited Mr Murray's home on the eve of his funeral, including Arts Minister and close friend Jimmy Deenihan.

"He was the icon of Irish racing and a one-off who brought horse racing to the masses," he said.

Role

"He played a huge role in the national festivals in Galway and especially in Listowel.

"Above all, he was a decent man and will be missed terribly by his family and friends."

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton joked that the 61-year-old was the "life and soul of every room, even if he was of a different view politically".

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also paid tribute to the sporting legend.

Other famous faces who attended the wake included colleagues from RTE such as Marty Morrissey, Evanne Ni Chuilinn, Paul Reynolds, Anne Cassin, David Murphy, John Finnerty and Siun Nic Gearailt.

RTE's Sean O'Rourke and former Meath senior football manager Sean Boylan also arrived to pay their respects.

Parish priest Fr Pat McManus, who said requiem mass today, said his family would take comfort from the reaction to Colm's death.

"Colm was always a fantastic communicator. Even in his illness, he always found a way to explain what he meant. He was marvellous," he said.

After funeral Mass, Colm Murray's remains were brought to St Fintan's cemetery, Sutton.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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