“There are people who are special, magic. Liam was a magical person,” his friend Paddy Glackin, told the gathering at Liam O'Flynn's funeral service this morning, Friday March 16.
For Kill native, Liam O'Flynn, Friday's service was, among other things, a beautiful musical tribute to his life and creations, from the Brendan Voyage to the song Si bheag Si mhor.
President Michael D. Higgins was among the mourners at the funeral of the world famous uileann piper and Planxty member, a Kill native, who passed away earlier this week.
Some of the country's best known musicians added to a musical farewell. Christy Moore, Paddy Glackin, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, Donal Lunny, Steve Cooney, Paul Brady, Iarla O Lionaird, actor Stephen Rea, broadcaster John Kelly, John Sheahan, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Marie Heaney, wife of the late Seamus Heaney, were among the attendance.
Fr Willie Byrne, welcoming all, said Liam was born and reared in Kill, and his father and mother were in charge of the local choir.
He recalled being in Knockbeg College with Liam, who was also known as Liam Óg.
“He never changed one bit from the day I met him,” he said.
It was not music, but horses which brought Liam and his wife, Jane, together.
“She was his rock and he adored the ground she walked on," said Fr Byrne.
He said Liam's talents never went to his head.
“I did not realise in college the talent he had, and I don't think anybody else did either.”
Paddy Glackin recalled seeing the “very well turned out” Liam O'Flynn at a Comhaltas concert in the Hollybrook Hotel, Clontarf, in 1967.
He said Liam, Donal Lunny, Christy Dunne and Andy Irvine, had given his generation a wonderful pride in music.
"Liam bristled at the word musical 'purist'. He was a musical adventurer," said Paddy.
When the Brendan Voyage was created, there were reservations about it “but it didn't bother Liam.”
Of his friend, he said: “He understood simplicity. He understood space. He understood silence.”
He would say: “Let us not get carried away.”
There were many sides to him.
“I never realised he had a huge interest in motor bikes or in sport. He was a single handicap golfer.”
He recalled one day they were out near a course on the way to Kilkea Castle. They spotted a hole on the course and Liam asked him what he would play there.
“I said six. He said a seven would do.”
He also said Liam loved boxing and recalled how he would ring him sometimes to check on how some professional fight was going on the television.
On music, Paddy said Liam “wouldn't play a note until it was ready to go.”
Paddy said his friend ultimately always turned towards home. He would be happy heading towards Kildare and to Jane.
“Words can never do justice. Travelling with him was such a privilege," he added.
The ceremony included music from RTE symphony concert members, the voice of Iarla O Lionaird, a tin whistle piece Liam's nephew, Olaf Vize, and a very well received recitation of Steve Cooney's poem, God's Glue, by himself.
The poem ends:
“As O'Flynn worked his bellows;
With these worthy fellows;
Joy spring from hearts through the room;
For these deft believers in great warp and weft;
Were weavers upon God's Loom.”
In a tribute in the funeral booklet, former President, Mary McAleese wrote; “The Master Piper is dead."
She said the “memory of a wonderful Irish genius, a man of humanity and character, humour and humility will long nourish us in this world where such characters are rare and getting rarer.”