An unexpected Saturday
At the start of the week I had expected to be in Oban today, campaigning for my colleague Brendan O"Hara and visiting a couple of the St Andrew's Day events which are part of the Winter Festival.
However on Tuesday in the early evening , just glancing though twitter, I found out that a very old and dear friend and mentor had died in Ireland. Minutes later I had the first of several emails telling me the same news.
Muiris MacConghail (whose obituary in the Irish Times is here) was the first Chair of the Celtic Media Association and the Celtic Film and Television Festival which I founded , with an amazing amount of help and support from him, in 1980 when I was working in the Western Isles and he was Controller of RTE 1. He was outgoing, energetic, enthusiastic , determined, often very scathing of bureaucracy and delay and immensely talented as a communicator and motivator.
When Cailean was born we asked him to be his godfather and over the years as a family got to know his family as well as many of his friends in broadcasting and other fields.
I hadn't seen him for quite some time and he had suffered a very serious stroke which resulted in a long period of decline. But in a sense he was always there with me because he had been such a strong influence on how my life and career developed.
I couldn't not go to his funeral, though it took a bit of organising, and this morning Cathleen and I flew to Dublin (leaving the house at 5.30 when the temperature was minus 6 ) so that we could attend.
I am so glad we did for the event was a wonderful celebration of his life and passions - for his family, his culture, his language, his friends and his joie de vivre. It was held at Mount Jerome in Dublin and the Irish President was there as well as a representative of the Taoiseach and a huge crowd of family, friends and former colleagues.
Afterwards we repaired to McGowans , a pub across from the very impressive , massive Mount Jerome Cemetery (an aspect of which is my extra photo) and then went back with Marie MacConghail and Breandán & Maire Feiritéar to the old family house (where I had first been entertained by him and Maire almost forty years ago) for a quieter supper and some affectionate remembrances of how much he had meant, and would go on meaning, to so many.