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Thursday 21 November 2019

'He burned bright like a comet' - cast of Fair City send off star Karl

The remains are carried from church followed by Karl Shiels partner, Laura Honan at the funeral of 47 year old Karl Shiels at the Church of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, Castleknock
The remains are carried from church followed by Karl Shiels partner, Laura Honan at the funeral of 47 year old Karl Shiels at the Church of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, Castleknock
Rex Ryan and his wife, Migle Jasiene leave after attending the funeral
Fair city Actors, Sorcha furlong, and Tony Tormey at the funeral
Jenny Dixon and her partner Tom Neville, TD

Fair City actor Karl Shiels was remembered as a magician, a hustler and a "comet that burned bright" at his funeral.

Shiels, who played Robbie Quinn in the RTE soap, died unexpectedly of natural causes on Sunday.

Actors, directors, film and theatre-makers gathered at Our Lady, Mother of the Church in Castleknock yesterday to pay their respects.

Mourners were led by Shiels' partner Laura Honan, his twin daughters Iseabel and Saoirse, their mother Dearbhla and his father Harry.

The cast and crew of Fair City travelled on a double-decker bus to the church.

Poems

Playwright Mark O'Rowe, Moe Dunford, Gate Theatre director Selina Cartmell, Deirdre O'Kane, Phelim Drew, Peter Coonan and Morah and Rex Ryan all attended the service.

Gifts taken to the altar included Shiels' "much-travelled hat", his Buddha beads, "which always brought him peace", an LP "because of his love of music", family photos and a book of poems by Nick Cave, who Shiels "considered a god".

Cave's The Ship Song and Into My Arms were played during the funeral service.

Ms Honan said her late partner was "all about love and light".

"He was a planner, a magic- ian at spinning plates, a hustler, a doer and he had a lot left to do," she said.

"He threw the best parties in Ireland, he told the filthiest jokes, he was always styling, he was always asking people what they were scribbling and at night he'd come home and would waltz to endless music.

"He burned bright like a comet, and these last few days the explosion of love has been deeply palpable and genuinely unforgettable."

Ms Honan recalled her final evening with Shiels - they had enjoyed a steak dinner and caught up on Love Island.

"He reached out, took my hand squeezed it and told me he loved me," she said.

Tattooed

She also quoted the words of David Lynch that Shiels had tattooed on his body: "Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see, one chants out between two worlds, fire walk with me."

She added: "So Karl, here's the plan - you bring the fire, babe, and we'll bring the life, you'll walk with us for ever."

Shiels' father Harry described his son as his "best pal", saying he first started acting when he was only two.

He invited all the mourners to join the family at the Red Cow Inn to celebrate and raise a glass.

"I knew Karl was popular, I never knew he was so popular," he said, referring to the mourners spilling out of the door.

Shiels' brother Jason spoke passionately about his "magnificent brother" who "created echoes that will shine for ever".

Fr Kieran Coghlan told the congregation: "The length of days is not the sole measure of our lives.

"What is important is how we have lived, loved and what we have achieved."

Shiels appeared in the 2005 film Batman Begins, as well as TV shows Foyle's War, Doctors, Into the Badlands and The Tudors. He also played Ryan in the first series of BBC's Peaky Blinders in 2013.

He had a noted stage career, appearing in several productions at the Abbey Theatre, including Beauty in a Broken Place, At Swim-Two Birds and The Barbaric Comedies.

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