THE eulogy at the requiem Mass for Neil McCann in St Patrick’s Cathedral made reference to another funeral earlier this month, over in Vienna, that of Otto von Hapsburg, the son of Austria’s last emperor and a champion of the European Union.
On Friday, the chief celebrant told the congregation in St Patrick’s that when the guard read out Otto’s full name and asked for admittance to the cemetery in Vienna - Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg – he was told they never heard of the guy. But when he asked for admittance for a sinner and a human being, the grandeur gave way to sympathy for the human being.
Otto was buried in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna where a thousand people gathered for the Mass. There was an equal number gathered in St Patrick’s of Friday for the funeral of Neil McCann, an elder statesman of Irish business, but there the comparison ended.
In Vienna, many criticised the pomp and tradition of the von Hapsburg funeral, saying it had no place in a European republic, but the funeral of Neil McCann was anything but archaic: it was a last farewell by family, friends, business people, and the people of Dundalk and county Louth for a much loved and highly regarded man.
“He was a man of complete sympathy and lack of grandeur,” Fr Murphy, chief celebrant, said.
“Neilie was a person of simplicity with a great ability to make everybody feel included. Neil McCann truly belonged to the Lord.”
Mr McCann’s son Carl said he and his brothers and sister were blessed with Neil and Mary as parents.
He said their father was very proud of his Dundalk roots. He made many great friends in business and never he forgot these friends.
He loved helping people out and his kindness and Christianity never failed him – “except when it became troublesome”.
“He had time for everyone, and loved his sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, six children, 16 grandchildren, his wonderful wife Mary to whom he had been happily married for over 60 years.”
Neil McCann read a poem dedicated to the memory of his father.
Other celebrants at the Mass were Fr Pat McEnroe PP Darver-Dromiskin, Fr Patrick Keenan Blackrock, Monsignor Francis Donnelly.
Bishop Gerard Clifford also attended.