herald

Thursday 19 April 2018

Brian's last call

FUNERAL: Thousands to pay tribute to ex-minister

THOUSANDS are expected to line the streets on Tuesday in a final tribute to Brian Lenihan. The 52-year-old former finance minister will be laid to rest near his home in west Dublin.

Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend his funeral as they pay their final respects to the popular TD. He died early yesterday surrounded by his adoring family after an 18- month battle against cancer. His death has been keenly felt in the Dublin West constituency he served with distinction since 1996.

Friends paid tribute to his immense courage in battling the disease up to his last days. His funeral arrangements will see the former minister repose at Jennings’ Funeral Home in Blanchardstown from 10am on Monday morning, before removal to St Mochta's Church in Porterstown, arriving at 6pm that evening. He will be buried at St David's Church graveyard in Kilsallaghan after 11am funeral Mass on Tuesday.

A book of condolences was opened at Mr Lenihan's constituency office, in the Laurel Lodge Shopping Centre, from 1pm to 6pm today.

Hundreds of people were expected to sign the book throughout the afternoon.

Mr Lenihan was told by doctors just over three weeks ago that he had lost his brave battle against pancreatic cancer.

He had gone through gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions last year -- but always continued working.

With the knowledge of his rapidly failing health, Mr Lenihan paid an emotional last visit to the civil servants who had worked for him at the Department of Finance. It coincided with the first day of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland.

Mr Lenihan had spent the whole of the previous week in the Mater Private Hospital.

The following day, he made a brief appearance at the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting in Leinster House -- his final visit to the Dail.

Former general secretary of the party Pat Farrell spoke of a lunch he and some friends enjoyed with Mr Lenihan in recent weeks.

He said it would have been one of the last occasions the former minister socialised in the company of wider friends.

"He was completely philosophical about his situation and he was optimistic -- that was the hallmark of the Lenihan family," Mr Farrell said.

Brian turned 52 on May 21, the day after the death of former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald.

But his doctors, led by the well-known surgeon and former All-Ireland winning Meath footballer Dr Gerry McEntee, had already come to the conclusion that the cancer battle was lost.

Mr Lenihan returned to the family home at the Strawberry Beds near Castleknock where his wife, the Circuit Court judge Patricia Ryan, and his two children Tom (19) and Claire (15), looked after him.

It is understood he continued to read voraciously while at home, keeping up with events and following the visits of the queen and Barack Obama on television. He was even staying in contact with friends by text up to a few days ago.

However, his condition deteriorated rapidly later in the week and he slipped into a coma late on Thursday and finally passed away early yesterday.

In a short statement, his family said: "Brian Lenihan died at home in the early hours of this morning (Friday). He is survived by his wife and two children, his mother, his three brothers and a sister."

comurphy@herald.ie

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