ONE OF the key tributes to Eugene Gillespie at his weekend funeral in St Annes chapel, Sligo, heard that he was ''not influenced by money or the Celtic Tiger.''
The active pensioner was beaten and murdered inside his own home 10 to12 days ago.
The tribute by his cousin Catherine O'Donovan -- which drew sustained applause from a congregation estimated at 1,500 -- also heard that "Eugene added to the richness of life in Sligo town."
In her opening remarks, Catherine said: ''Eugene was a gentleman. He was a philosopher and a deep thinker. He could quote from the Annals of the Four Masters, give the date of every battle, not only in Irish history, but in European history and also the American Civil War.
''He had a view of everything political and he was the best man I ever met at making a short story long,'' said Catherine to laughter.
"Eugene was equally fluent in English and in Irish. Bhi an beanneacht ceanna ag Eugene le gach duine. Fior Gael a bhi ann.
"To everyone who called to the homes of Brian, Patsy, Elizabeth and Joan thank you for your support and helping hand.
"Eugene added to the richness of life in Sligo town.
"Thanks to his all neighbours in Old Market Street, Burton Street and beyond for making it such a wonderful community to live in.
"Eugene was one of the great characters of this town and he will never be replaced. Ni bheidh a leithid ann aris.
"Eugene had no difficulty in understanding or diagnosing any problem under the bonnet of a car.
"His real passion was in vintage cars and these suited his preferred taste in life.
Thank you to the Connacht and Vintage Club and other clubs around the country who offered their overwhelming support. Mile buiochas.
"Eugene was his own man. He was not influenced by money or the Celtic Tiger and had no interest in accumulating wealth.
"He could have made a couple of million during the building boom but he was not this type of man. Bhi 'soul' simpleach, nadurtha, aige.
"There was no need to rob Eugene because he would have given you the shirt off his back.
Charity of Life
"Thank you Eugene for always being there for all of us. Having you in our lives meant we never wanted for much.
"Thank you for all the laughs, the debate, the mishaps, the mystery tours, the fior Ceili-s, the dance lessons, the Irish lessons, the visits, the comhra-s, the craic and all the 'cead mile failte-s."
Catherine concluded her address: "May the nourishment of the Earth be yours, may the charity of Life be yours, may the fluency of the oceans be yours and may the protection of our ancestors be yours, mo anam cara. Go ndeana Dia trocaire."
During the Mass of Christian Burial with principal celebrant Fr Dominick Gillooly, PP, St Annes, music was performed by relations of the deceased. Carmel Gunning, a cousin played a haunting version of An Chualinn on the tin whistle while cousins Eugene and Philip Cullen played the fiddle and flute. They also performed at the graveside. See Video.
The chief mourners were Eugene’s brother Brian and his sisters Elizabeth and Patsy.
Mayor of Sligo Cllr David Cawley, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Cllr Veronica Cawley represented the Borough and County respectively.
On Friday evening it took four hours for the estimated 2,000 people who came to pay their respects to file through Foley McGowan’s funeral home in Market Yard.
Eugene's remains were then brought to the ancestral home in Calry where he was waked before being brought in a 1936 Austin 186 hearse to St Annes's Church yesterday morning.
Following the Mass, the funeral cortege en route to Sligo Cemetery ironically passed by Sligo Garda Station where the man now charged with the murder was being questioned.
With Eugene's remains now being carried aloft by a series of pall bearers who paused for a few moments outside the old family shop and Eugene's former home which was also the scene of his tragic death.
The street, Old Market Street was lined with a guard of honour made up from members of vintage car clubs.
Neighbours along the route stood in silent homage to a departed friend.
Arriving at the cemetery, where Eugene's vintage car stood, more mourners waited.
Many floral tributes were presented with an extra hearse needed to convey them. One, with flowers woven around a old car wheel carried the message;
'From all your friends and colleagues in the Connaght Veteran + Vintage Car Club and the wider vintage movement. Your passing leaves a huge void but the good times we had will live with us forever.'
The message echoed the thoughts of Sligo people who have now lost a true and kind gentleman.
Scholarship :: The reward fund arranged by Eugene's friend,
Declan Foley (Melbourne, Australia) will now be used to establish a
Gaeltacht Scholarship in Eugene's name. All are invited to contribute,
no matter how small the donation.
The Fund's detail's are;
The Eugene Gillespie Memorial Fund Sligo Credit Union, Stephen St., Sligo. Account Number 22735
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