WELL-known Limerick publican and Fianna Fáil Councillor Jerry O’Dea, who was laid to rest on the day he was to be elected Mayor of Limerick City and County, was remembered at his funeral Mass as a devoted father who worked tirelessly for his community.
Mr O’Dea, 55, who died suddenly from a suspected heart attack last Saturday, had been due to be elected Limerick’s first citizen in a voting pact at the annual meeting of Limerick City and County Council this afternoon.
“This is not where we expected to be today, we expected to be somewhere else for another milestone moment in Jerry’s life, but we gather here with his beloved family and extend our deepest sympathy,” said Fr Frank O’Connor of St John’s parish.
“We have just heard that beautiful song ‘Forever Young’ and that’s how we will hold Jerry in our hearts, that’s how we will remember him,” added Fr O’Connor.
Earlier in the week, Taoiseach Michael Martin led widespread tributes; books of condolences were opened and the tricolour flew at half-mast at the Council Headquarters.
Outgoing Mayor and Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler, fellow councillors and council management, senior Gardaí, and TDs, including Maurice Quinlivan, Willie O’Dea, and Brian Leddin, along with representatives of local sports clubs that had been sponsored and supported by Mr O’Dea, joined a large gathering of mourners.
Symbols of Mr O’Dea’s life were placed beside his coffin, including a painting by his late mother Margaret of Kilkee, representing his love of art and the family’s summer holiday retreat; a cookbook symbolising his “love of the finer things in life”; the Crest of the Shannon College of Hotel Managament, where he studied, and a miniature of the Limerick Treaty Stone, represented his obliging nature and “pride in Limerick”.
His brother, Andrew O’Dea told mourners his late brother had been “unique, kind, giving, and free-spirited”.
“Everyone of you will have known a different Jerry to me, you would have all loved him for different reasons – maybe it was because he was your devoted and dedicated father, maybe it was because he was generous to a fault, maybe it was because he pulled you the perfect pint,” said Mr O’Dea.
“Maybe he went out of his way to help you as a councillor, maybe he sorted out that bus for your supporters club for that special away match, maybe he got the potholes filled in at the bottom of your road.
“You all have your own versions of Jerry. My Jerry was a shrewd negotiator with an uncanny ability to strike a deal, and a keen eye for investment in the local economy.
“He wasn’t perfect, he made mistakes, at times he was infuriating – like all of us I suppose – but he did his best to put things right in the end.
“My Jerry was mischievous, funny, sharp as a pin. So, there you have it, in a nutshell, he was a devoted father, loving son, generous uncle, selfless friend, dedicated community member, astute business man, avid sports supporter, and the best brother you could possibly hope to have.”
The funeral cortège paused outside Mr O’Dea’s pub at Mulgrave Street, before continuing to his final resting place at Crecora Cemetery.
Mr O’Dea, a former Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Limerick, is survived by his father, brother, sisters, son and daughter and their mother.