Thousands mourn Wicklow’s Mr Music
Thousands of people turned out to pay their last respected to the former great showband star, Jay Byrne, who was laid to rest last Sunday morning.
It was considered to be the biggest funeral ever in Glenealy village as people poured in from all over the country.
Some were old friends from the showband days, many were personal acquaintances, but the majority were those who had probably never met him personally but respected him for the pleasure he gave down the years.
His former colleagues in the band carried the coffin from the house to the church on Saturday evening and the local choir, which was trained by Jay, sang the funeral Mass.
After the burial, Anthony Byrne played ‘Amazing Grace’ on Jay’s own saxophone, accompanied by Tommy Earls and Abi Jacob.
Aged 58, Jay (his real name Jim), became interested in music from an early age and through encouragement from his parents he learned to play the accordion.
But then came the age of radio and Jay tuned into every music programme, became hooked on jazz, and was particularly intrigued with the big band sound.
He became a household name and the rich sound and versatility of his band packed dance halls all over Leinster.