Sam Maguire the guest of honour as Dublin says a tearful farewell to super-fan Tony Broughan
It's not often you hear a loud cheer at a funeral, but when the Sam Maguire cup was raised in the air above the coffin of one of Dublin's favourite fans yesterday the roof nearly lifted off the church.
The silverware was brought to the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Cabra in honour of Tony Broughan, otherwise known as Molly Malone, as family and friends came to bid farewell to the GAA super fan who died last Wednesday after a short illness.
The father-of-eight (88) will be remembered by generations of GAA fans as the man who used to dress up as Molly Malone, in full wig and dress regalia, as he rang his bell in Hill 16 and Parnell Park.
He had been a regular fixture at Dubs games since 1975, having taken over the role of Molly Malone upon his brother's death.
There were cheers in the church when some of the symbols to represent Tony's life were brought to the altar, including his navy and sky-blue dress and his own mock Sam Maguire.
There was a particularly emotional moment when his bell was brought forward and rang out.
Other symbols included coal to represent his days as a coal merchant, a figure of a horse's head to represent his connection with horse trotting, a radio he used to listen to matches on if he could not attend and a newspaper, because he was a voracious paper reader every day.
Parish priest Fr Michael O'Grady said Tony deserves his place in the history of the city, GAA, Hill 16 and the parish.
"Before all else he was a family man, who lived on his own terms and in his own time, and in the family context he is reunited with his beloved wife Rose who died three years ago," he said.
"Tony was someone who was a tonic, made people smile, and lightened many a burden. His memory will live long, with the bell, the blue hair and the dress."
Fr O'Grady told how Tony had helped so many people in difficult times. "Many a home was heated, and many a person fed because of him," he said.
Tony's son Terry, with his wife Christine, told how Tony had led a hard but simple life, and how he cared for Rose in her final years - only leaving her side when there was someone to look after her when he went to a Dubs game.
"His religion was GAA, and he loved dressing up for matches," they said.
Tony had worked for Dublin Corporation and the family told how a former colleague said to them he remembered Tony "mullocking in the manholes until the blockages were cleared", and how he would have a coal fire burning outside his corporation hut which would draw people to him on a cold day. He would always let them warm themselves by the fire.
Terry and Christine said Tony got a coal round after working with the corporation and would say that as long as you had a bit of heat and food on the table, you'd be alright.
The family heard that Tony had lived to see his beloved Dubs win the five-in-a-row, and that maybe the team can do six in a row in his honour.
His coffin was brought from the church as the congregation inside and outside proudly sang Molly Malone.
Dressed in the Dublin colours and waving Dublin flags, they accompanied Tony's remains as they were driven by Croke Park one final time as a tribute to him.