By Róise Collins
GAOTH DOBHAIR man Danny Blair has been remembered as a gentle, humble man with a bright mind who cared deeply for his loving wife Anne and his two sons, Joe and Anthony.
Danny’s Requiem Mass was held in St Mary’s Church, Derrybeg on Tuesday afternoon.
Mourners gathered from near and far to pay their respects.
Just ten days earlier many of the same people had gathered together to celebrate the launch of his book titled ‘I, Daniel Blair’.
Fr Seán Ó Gallchóir who celebrated the funeral Mass comforted heartbroken family and friends with some of the words Danny had penned, “Don’t be sad it’s over, just be glad it’s happened”.
Fr Seán stood in for Gaoth Dobhair Parish Priest Brian Ó’Fearraigh who regrettably couldn’t attend the Mass. Fr Seán told the congregation how he was also from Cotteen in Derrybeg and how his mother and Danny’s mother were second cousins.
Football had always been a huge part of Danny’s life. Growing up in Glasgow he has always been a devoted fan of Celtic FC. Some of those in attendance even paid tribute to this by wearing the iconic green and white hoops to the funeral Mass.
Despite growing up in Glasgow, Danny spent much of his childhood back in the hills. In his moving eulogy Fr Seán reminisced on this.
“Once the schools closed in Glasgow, they would flock home. The Blairs and the Divers would come to Cotteen and we used to have mighty soccer matches on a soggy pitch, worse than Kilmarnock.
“It was no wonder, they were well used to watching Jock Stein, Willie Fernie, Bobby Collins, Bobby Evans, Bertie Peacock and Charlie Tully and we were watching Stout and Willie Mhici,” Fr Seán said.
At the young age of 15 Danny started working as a miner in Glasgow, he worked in the mines for over 14 years throughout very turbulent times in the industry, with strikes and pickets regularly taking place.
This helped to shape Danny’s great sense of justice, fair play, equality and solidarity. When he then moved home to Ireland he brought this same set of values with him.
Danny had a keen interest in politics and the world around him, and was a dedicated member of the local Sinn Féin Cumann. Many members of the Cumann stood for a guard of honour at the doors of the chapel.
This was one of four separate guards of honour he received as he made his final journey to St Mary’s Church. Also lining the streets of Gaoth Dobhair in respect were the staff of Ionad Naomh Phádraig, staff from factories in the ‘screabáin’ and the local Celtic supporters club.
This showed the massive impact Danny had within his community.