OVER 1,000 people including family, friends, political colleagues and supporters united at St Columba’s Church, Massmount, Tamney on Wednesday afternoon for the funeral of former TD and county councillor Harry Blaney.
Speaking at the Requiem Mass, Fr Patrick McGarvey, PP Fanad, spoke of how Mr Blaney (85) was a ‘man of the people for the people’
“Harry Blaney will be forever remembered as a bridge builder and it is fitting we are here three years after a bridge was opened in his honour- The Harry Blaney Bridge,” Fr McGarvey said.
“He crossed over waters, over the oceans and over the politics of life to build and unite and to build hope. He did all he could with his famous shopping list and God help God today because I’m sure he has a list for him too.” he quipped.
“Harry was a loyal man to his family and friends, but a man who would help anyone. He carried on the Fanad way right to the end. He was a genuine person who became your friend and your neighbour. His wife, Margaret and children were his co-workers in life and in politics and he worked hard to make a living from the wee farm here in Fanad,” he said.
“Harry achieved so much in life, but he was not one to live in a mansion- he preferred a humble home and the love of his family,” he added.
Father McGarvey said Mr Blaney, who was a TD from 1997 until 2002 and a county councillor for 40 years before that, didn’t have to know you to help you.
He had Harry Blaney had a huge passion for football – having been given a trial by his beloved Glasgow Celtic in the 1950s.
He went on play for Swilly Rovers, reaching the Junior Cup Final – captained by current independent councillor Ian McGarvey – in 1953; and Mr Blaney had gone on the help when Fanad United were established.
A wreath from Celtic Football Club were among the floral tributes at the church as his widow Margaret was comforted by daughters Noreen, Catherine, Breideen, Patricia and Noelle, sons Liam and Niall, sons-in-law and partners, brothers Liam, Teddy, Paul and Kevin, 14 grandchildren and extended family.
Fianna Fáil party leader, Mr Michéal Martin, led the party dignitaries that included former ministers Mary Coughlan and Mary Hanafin, junior minister Dara Calleary, MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher, county councillors and senators.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Mr Martin, said Harry Blaney was a ‘kind, courteous, calm but fair individual who came from a political family dynasty in Donegal’.
“He had a lovely way about him. He had no swagger but I was always conscious I was working with one of the great families of Donegal politics. His sons Niall and Liam carry on the tradition in a very understated way,” he said.
Mr Blaney’s eldest daughter Noreen, paid a touching eulogy to her father, detailing his passions for his family, for farming and for football.
She said that his last words before he took ill were: “I’ll be all right if you get me out to the barn a run.”
“Most of the people here know of Harry Blaney, the politician, but for us he was a father, grandfather, husband and friend. He was born in 1928 ino a family of 11 when times were tough. His parents died young and he often recalled to us how he would skip school,”
“He came from a farming background and never strayed from it over the years. His happiest days were spent in the sheds and fields. He loved manual work and was never too fond of machinery. If there was a job to be done there was only one way to do it- his way,”