Keith Duffy pays tribute to 'fighter' dad Sean with emotional rendition of favourite song at funeral

By Marita Moloney

Boyzone star Keith Duffy paid tribute to his father Sean as an "inspiration" as the 76-year-old was laid to rest on Thursday.

Sean Duffy passed away peacefully at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown on January 8 after almost two decades of fighting cancer.

The father-of-three, who lived in Celbridge and was formerly of Grangemore in Raheny, had beat the disease four times over 18 years.

His funeral Mass at Glasnevin Cemetery heard Sean described by the chief celebrant as someone with "great courage" who was "precious" and "made us all feel precious".

Mourners, who included Keith's fellow Boyzone members, heard that the popular man was a "gentleman, impeccable, humorous, supportive and kind" with "a gift of music".

Keith Duffy together with his late father, Sean (Instagram)

Among the songs played during the ceremony were Bridge Over Troubled Water, which was "a special song that Sean and [his wife] Pat held in their hearts together", as well as How Long Will I Love You and Forever Friend.

Keith also paid tribute to his father by singing My Way, a song that summed up Sean's life.

In his eulogy, he said it was "dreadful" when his dad was first diagnosed with cancer 18 years ago, but he never gave up his battle with cancer.

"We're all going to go someday and it's never going to be nice but for 18 years my dad has fought cancer," he said.

"And fight it he did and he went on to beat it which is quite amazing but unfortunately it came back again and he beat it four times."

On the Wednesday before Christmas, Sean got the results from his most recent PET scan.

His oncologist turned to him and said, "Wow Sean, you're unbelievable. 18 years later and yet again you're in remission, you're some fighter".

"He's a bigger man than any I'll ever meet," Keith said, adding that his dad had "won the war" with the illness after fighting the battle for years.

However, Sean was "sucker-punched" in the New Year and was "overpowered" by the "three opponents he had to fight at the same time", those being pneumonia, fibrosis and Covid.

"He didn't give up. Most people would probably lose that battle after 24 hours but my dad didn't," he said.

"He fought that fight and he fought it for five days and I watched something happen.

"I watched the man that I always considered a hero fight not for himself, but for us, to try and stay around for his grandchildren, he didn't want to go anywhere."

For every minute of every day over those five days Sean fought, Keith said, which was "devastating to watch" but "he put up one hell of a fight".

"You know I love the man, but I can't put into words how he worked," he added.

Sean's family eventually asked him to stop fighting as he had done enough and it "might be time to rest".

He then passed away peacefully surrounded by Pat, his wife, and his three sons Keith, John and Derek.

Sean Duffy. (RIP.ie)

"He's at peace now for eternity and he'll never be gone...there will always be a part of my dad alive forever," Keith said.

He also praised his mother Pat who over the 18 years was with Sean every day, even during the difficult times

"She was his backbone and she was his rock who went through it every step of the way," he said.

"My mother is a trooper and she too is a warrior."

Keith then went on to explain how his father inspired him to want to be in the music business.

"I remember from such a young age going to see my dad performing," he said.

"That's all I wanted to do, he helped me and we sang together and plenty of times he tried to talk me out of it.

"It was a passion I had and I wanted to fulfil it and he stood behind me, he gave me the confidence to go forward.

"I was blessed, I was lucky enough to join up with four other men, and some of them are here, I'm delighted to see some of my brothers here today.

"We went on to have a phenomenal career and we were very blessed, very lucky."

Keith then gave a powerful rendition of Frank Sinatra's song My Way in memory of his dad.

"One song he always sang, and he told me never to try it, but for me the eulogy I would like to do is through music," he explained.

"My dad lived his life and for those of you who know him, the lyrics of this song are very apt.

"Through his whole life he did it his way and he sang this better than Sinatra."

Sean's grandchildren also shared their memories of him while speaking at the funeral, while Keith read out a letter from his son Jay who was unable to make the mass.

Keith Duffy with his father Sean and his son Jay (Instagram/officialkeithduffy)

Jay, 25, said in the letter he had "never been so proud" to be Sean's grandson, and shared how the pair became friends in recent years.

He added that Sean imparted invaluable advice to his grandson on the principles to live by, including "be bold, seek adventure, pursue knowledge, roll the dice, go for it, fight the good fight, have no regrets and write down everything".

Sean's son John also paid an emotional tribute to his father, saying that it was an "incomprehensible day for the family".

He told the Mass how his dad had a favourite saying growing up, 'You may be taller than me, but you'll never be bigger than me'.

"The positivity and resilience in the face of adversity and how he battled and kept smiling is why I think of my dad now as nothing less than a warrior," he said.


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