Funeral for Ben Dunne told he was a ‘good, decent, generous, loving Irishman’, mourners told

Ben Dunne's funeral. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The son of Irish businessman Ben Dunne has described him as a “good, decent, generous, loving Irishman”, who had a “passion” for business.

Mr Dunne died over a week ago after suffering from a heart attack while on a trip to Dubai.

The popular Cork-born man was a high-profile figure in Irish life, having been a former director of the family firm Dunnes Stores as well as the owner of a chain of gyms.

In 1981, Ben Dunne was kidnapped by the IRA and was released seven days later after a ransom was reportedly paid, an event that his son said his father held “no ill feeling” towards.

Hundreds of people attended his funeral mass on Tuesday, including Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and businessman Larry Goodman.

Ben Dunne gym staff formed a guard of honour at the gates of St Mochta’s Church in Porterstown, Clonsilla.

Mr Dunne’s wicker coffin was carried into St Mochta’s Church in Porterstown, Clonsilla, for the funeral mass.

Addressing mourners, Mark Dunne said his father was “incredibly ambitious and driven in each of his endeavours”, and “loved the fitness industry”.

“He was razor sharp with numbers when it came to looking at business financials, or ‘the figures’, as he would call them.”

He said he was “brilliant and loving” to his children and grandchildren, and would call them regularly to check in on them.

He added: “My father endured many things with his siblings, some private and some, unfortunately, very public.

“However, at the core of a family business is that word ‘family’, and family always finds a way of going back to its roots.

“So I want to acknowledge as well that today is a particularly difficult day for my aunt Margaret.

“Margaret and dad spoke to each other almost daily about many things.

“Whilst they were both different people with different opinions, they loved each other dearly and they have been a great source of strength to each other over the years.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said it is decision time for the DUP and the UK Government Credit: Niall Carson/PA

“His kidnapping in 1981 was hugely traumatic on him and it was the source of much of his personal troubles throughout the years that followed.

“But time is a great healer and he held no ill feeling towards his captors.

“He did the Christian thing and forgave.”

Recalling his father’s humour, Mark Dunne told a story involving his father’s dyslexia.

“I recall one time walking into our offices with him when he saw a man park his car in a disabled space.

“As the man got out of his vehicle, he roared at him ‘What are you doing parking there?’ ‘I’ve a prosthetic,’ came the reply from the man. ‘Well I have a prostate too, and you don’t see me parking in a disabled spot.’ That was dad.”

Mark Dunne said his father had been “quite reflective” and “philosophical” on the trip in Dubai, and had revealed to him a prayer that he said to himself each night.

“So far, all my nights have been followed by more days. But in this world of mine, a night will come when there will be no more day for me. Lord, look after me today.”

Ben Dunne’s coffin is carried in to St Mochta’s church in Clonsilla Credit: Niall Carson/PA

He thanked emergency personnel, hotel staff in Dubai, Irish officials who provided consular assistance and others who helped in the aftermath of his father’s death.

Mark Dunne told mourners his father “never liked going to funerals” but wanted a “full report” from ones his son had attended.

“This is one funeral that, sadly, he must attend,” Mark Dunne told the congregation, adding he would be pleased to see so many people in attendance.

“Over the past week, we’ve received so many messages of condolences from so many people.

“And the overarching theme in all of these messages has been about dad’s generosity, and generous he was, sometimes to a fault.

“He looked after so many people and organisations, and he never looked for public acknowledgement of it.

“He simply just wanted to help.

“He was humble in his generosity.

“He wasn’t looking to use it as any kind of public redemption.

“In fact, that openness and willingness to lay out his flaws was a major part of what people found so appealing about him and his personality.”

The parish priest told the congregation that Ben Dunne had a “wonderful character, personality and charm”, and said that he, like many, made mistakes.

He said that we are living in “very fragile and uncertain times”, referencing riots in Dublin city on Thursday as “events in the streets of our capital city”.

He said it was important to reflect “on the true meaning of what our lives are all about”, and to reflect on the use of “social media”, which he said was “saturated by gossip”.

“Gossip has been described as the devil’s radio – please don’t be one of its announcers.

“Gossip destroys and hurts so many people,” he said.

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