Emotional day in Limerick as former Cathaoirleach laid to rest

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Richard Butler's son Daniel and his brother Robert carry his remains from St Nessan's Church in Raheen, where a large congregation said farewell this Wednesday.  Picture: Mike Cowhey
THERE was an outpouring of grief in Raheen this week as thousands paid their last respects to Richard Butler.

THERE was an outpouring of grief in Raheen this week as thousands paid their last respects to Richard Butler.

Richard passed away on Sunday night after succumbing to a long battle with cancer, aged just 56.

A former Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Richard’s career in local politics dates back to 1999, when he was first elected,

He was recalled as being a “father” and a “best friend” by son Daniel. St Nessan’s Church was packed to capacity as mourners, including almost every member of County Council, many city councillors, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Deputy Kieran O’Donnell.

They were joined by former TDs Mike Finucane and Michael Collins.

His devastated wife Bernadette sat at the front of the church, alongside her children Daniel, Robert and Susan, while members.

There were no floral tributes, with mourners asked to instead donate money to the High Dependency Unit at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, with a picture of Cllr Butler sat atop his coffin. In a moving poem, written in tribute to her father, Richard’s daughter Susan - who is getting married next year - said: “I am proud to say you are my Dad, the greatest man I ever knew. Although you will not be there to walk me down the aisble, when that day comes, I know you will keep your promise to be by my side with a smile.”

Daniel added: “Dad was defined by his life, not by his death. He was not perfect - he could be a massive pain in the rear end. But he never let you down.

“If you ever came to him with a problem, he would say ‘Leave it with me’, and it would be like the problem never existed.”

“He loved Mum until his last breath.”

At the start of the funeral mass, symbols of Richard’s life were brought to the altar.

A framed photo of himself and his family after his elevation to Cathaoirleach in 2010 was joined by a hurley to mark his Mungret side’s win in the 1975 county final.And the Munster jersey he always wore travelling to games was also introduced. On this note, Daniel called on the congregation to join him in an impromptu rendition of the Munster anthem Stand up and Fight.

Curate of St Nessan’s, Fr Richie Davern celebrated the Mass, later being joined by Fr Michael Noonan.

As Mr Butler’s remains were removed, councilors headed by Cathaoirleach John Sheahan and county manager Conn Murray formed a guard of honour.

Richard is survived by wife Bernadette, son Daniel, daughter Susan, brothers Billy, Robert, sisters Geraldine, Miriam, Breda, Charlotte, Christina and Layla; nieces, nephews, extended family and a large circle of friends.