'Craic was never far away when dad was around'
Family and friends marked the passing of The Dubliners' Eamonn Campbell in style yesterday.
They came in their droves to say goodbye to the popular musician, who passed away in the Netherlands just over a week ago, "doing what he loved best" - touring.
Guitarist Mr Campbell had a career spanning more than 50 years, including his work as a producer for The Dubliners.
It was his suggestion in the 1980s that they work with The Pogues, giving them their second biggest UK hit, The Irish Rover.
Yesterday the air was filled with music as mourners packed St Agnes Church, Crumlin, for his funeral Mass.
Among them were Dublin singer Imelda May, who sang a stunning version of The Rare Ould Times along with banjo maestro Paul Watchorn.
During the Mass, Mr Campbell was remembered as a devoted family man, a great cook, and a massive Dublin GAA fan.
The Sam Maguire Cup was placed on his wicker coffin at the service and Dublin players Eoghan O'Gara, Philly McMahon, Denis Bastick and Kevin McManamon were among the pall-bearers who carried his remains into the church.
In a moving tribute, his daughter Ciara said: "My Dad was a husband, a dad, a granddad, a musician, a drinker, a smoker and a good friend to many".
He was born in 1946 in Drogheda, Co Louth.
"His life took a major turn at the age of 10, when listening to Radio Luxembourg and he heard Elvis Presley," she said.
"At the ripe old age of 11, he got his first guitar and taught himself how to play."
A career in music beckoned and he turned fully professional in 1964.
"His favourite saying was, 'They won't stop me singing until they put me in the ground'," she said.
Eamonn was an only child, but made up for it with his own large family, she added.
Ciara told how he met her mum Noreen in 1987, and won her over with his charm and big smile. "The craic was never far away when my Dad was around," she said.
Ciara said that in the days since his death, they have heard so many stories of his kindness and generosity, which have flooded in.
"You've always told me that, no matter what, you'd never stop loving me. Goodbye Dad, it's your time to be free," his daughter Niamh said in a heartfelt poem.
In latter years, Mr Campbell (70) continued to tour and play concerts with The Dublin Legends, and his bandmates were present yesterday to say their sad goodbyes to him.
Fr John Deasy, who celebrated Mass, with Fr Brian D'arcy also at the altar, said: "He brought joy to so many people all over Ireland and all over the world. He was devoted to his family, to his wife, kids and grandchildren."
"Ireland is poorer for the death of Eamonn."
He was a man of faith, and liked to drop into the church and light a candle.
"He has gone above and he has gone to join the choirs of angels. He will be playing the mandolin or playing the guitar," said Fr Deasy.
"We want to say thank you, we loved you."
Prayers were said for the doctors and nurses who made Eamonn so comfortable when he became ill abroad.
There wasn't a dry eye when May sang again at the end as the audience broke into applause for Will The Circle Be Unbroken, with many joining in.
Mr Campbell is survived by his wife Noreen and children Paddy, Eamon (Jacko), Franky, Emma-Jane, Niamh and Ciara.