A UNIQUE CEL­E­BRA­TION FOR A VERY SPE­CIAL MAN

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - BY ALI­SON COMYN

He was a unique man in many ways, and last Mon­day, the life of Brian Conyn­g­ham was cel­e­brated in quite a unique man­ner, as was be­fit­ting his char­ac­ter.

In an in­ter­de­nom­i­na­tional fu­neral ser­vice, the church which was so spe­cial to him and his beloved wife Phil played host to the faith which he cher­ished, as a Bahá’í cer­e­mony was shared in the Au­gus­tinian Church. Joint cel­e­brants were Fr David Crean OSA and Kevin Bro­gan of the lo­cal Bahá’í com­mu­nity.

Dur­ing nor­mal times, the church would have been packed with fam­ily and friends mourn­ing the loss of the for­mer editor of the Drogheda In­de­pen­dent – present staff of the news­pa­per bowed their heads for moment as his re­mains ar­rived across from the Shop Street of­fices – but his close fam­ily held his mem­ory dear dur­ing the sur­pris­ingly joy­ous oc­ca­sion.

It is sel­dom The Girl from Ipanema is played at a fu­neral.

In­deed, beau­ti­ful mu­sic played a key role, as life-long friend, com­poser Michael Holo­han, joined other mu­si­cal roy­alty He­len Leahy (vi­o­lin), Su­san Con­nolly (flute) and Breifne Holo­han, Barry Leahy and Terry McHugh on gui­tars. The strains of the South African na­tional an­them be­gan the cer­e­mony, as Brian was a na­tive of that coun­try, born in Pre­to­ria in 1941.

Fr Crean spoke warmly of the man he counted amongt his best friends.

‘Colm and Ger­ard have lost their dad, and Phil has lost her Cara, the other half with whom she shared a jour­ney that stretches back 55 years, to when they made their vows on July 10th 1965,’ he told those present,’ said Fr Crean. ‘His dy­ing will leave an empti­ness in the lives of many.’

He re­called the Greek is­land of Mykonos where the ro­mance be­gan; on the beach there, ‘des­tiny showed its hand’.

A young man, bearded, of 23 years of age, had hitch­hiked all the way from his na­tive South Africa, on a jour­ney of dis­cov­ery,’ he said fondly.

‘On the beach that day he found Phil. He ended then the jour­ney he was on, to be­gin with her a jour­ney of

a dif­fer­ent kind. They made a home, gave life to their sons, and re­mained con­stantly at her side; with the ex­cep­tion of the times she went shop­ping!’

They shared a love for life – they shared the same gift for mak­ing and for keep­ing friends. Brian was a news­pa­per man ‘ through and through’ and worked in jour­nal­ism all his work­ing life. He worked in London and Belfast, be­fore ar­riv­ing in Drogheda, where he be­came editor of the Drogheda in 1969.

With Phil at his side, he made a dif­fer­ence to the town, and was the in­spi­ra­tion and driv­ing force be­hind the Samba fes­ti­val, and in re­cent times, when he saw how mul­ti­cul­tural Drogheda was be­com­ing, he helped fos­ter in­te­gra­tion.

In his 80th year, Brian’s con­tri­bu­tion to the many cul­tural as­pects of the town was im­mense.

Dur­ing a peace­ful and gen­tle ser­vice – in­ter­spersed with beau­ti­ful mu­sic – bi­ble readings were in­ter­wo­ven with Bahá’í hymns and readings, and the many achieve­ments of the soft-spo­ken, yet re­mark­able, man were re­called.

And not least by his own son Ger­ard, who spoke at length about his beloved father.

‘He was a quiet, gen­tly spo­ken man and never re­ally got an­gry very of­ten, even with the stress of get­ting a news­pa­per out with dead­lines and ev­ery­thing – I see one or two of them popped out of the of­fice to­day even though I know the pa­per comes out a three – and Dad sur­vived all the life,’ he said. ‘ There wasn’t a com­mit­tee meet­ing held in Drogheda that one or other of them wasn’t at, and they were es­pe­cially proud of the Samba fes­ti­val, the Arts Coun­cil, and more re­cently Cul­ture Con­nect,

He ex­plained how dif­fer­ent Brian and Phil were, but the op­po­sites must have def­i­nitely at­tracted as they cel­e­brated over 50 glo­ri­ous years as a mar­ried couple.

‘If you did the maths you’ll know they cel­e­brated their 55th an­niver­sary this year – but my mother loves to talk, my dad loved to talk too she took a breath ev­ery now and then – she loves a large au­di­ence and he liked face to face,’ he ex­plained.

‘But they have more in com­mon than you might think, and they brought the best out in each other’.

Brian Conyn­g­ham

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.