LARGE crowds gathered in Westport last week for the removal and Funeral Mass of Mick Lavelle. A renowned singer, storyteller and all round entertainer, Mick was found dead in his home on Prospect Avenue on Monday, January 14. He had died suddenly and peacefully. Following reposeat McGing’s Funeral Home on Wednesday evening last, and removal to St Mary’s Church in Westport, Mick’s Funeral Mass was held on Thursday morning, by chief celebrant Fr Charlie McDonnell along with Fr Declan Carroll, PP Burrishoole, (Mick’s home parish), Fr Peter Gannon, PP Claremorris, himself a well-known traditional musician, and Fr Karl Burns.
In his homily, Fr McDonnell described Mick as ‘old, traditional, respectful, a man who brought joy and laughter wherever he went and who had a word for everybody’.
“As a man who wore a pioneer pin for over 50 years he was not the best of customers in Matt Molloy’s, but he was always welcome, and gave so much there over so many years. No matter where you were from he had a song for you or your home place. Mick had a great sense of humour and fun and an ability and a need to entertain,” he said.
“The ‘Lotto Song’ was ironic,” he continued. “It was about a man who was not happy with his wife but Mick was dedicated to Annie (his wife who died in 2008), they were so much a couple and he looked after and cared for her. He was a people person, even years ago when Mick had heart surgery and was supposed to be resting he couldn’t stay away from Matt Molloy’s, he got energy from people. After he had a quadruple bypass somebody asked Seamus Geraghty (long serving manager of Matt Molloy’s) ‘how is Mick?’ and the answer was ‘he is worse!’ ‘How do you mean?’ the startled response came back. ‘He’s louder than ever,’ Seamus replied.
“All the laughs and joy he gave, all the people he rubbed shoulders with and all the times he entertained, those are memories to cherish,” he concluded
Following communion, Mick’s nephew Ger Lavelle spoke on behalf of the family and recalled fond memories of visiting his uncle and the wonderful life he had with Annie.
“When Mick was born they broke the mould and we won’t see his like again,” he said, also thanking everybody for their kind words and expressions of sympathy since Mick’s passing, before finishing his tribute with an appropriate quote - the last line from the Lotto Song made famous by Mick - ‘it was lovely while it lasted that winning dream of mine’.
Speaking to The Mayo News following a performance during the funeral with other local musicians, all friends of Mick’s, Matt Molloy recalled meeting Mick in Westport before he opened his pub in 1989.
“I was fascinated by his talent. I asked him to perform with The Chieftains the night we opened and he performed excellently. He had brilliant comic timing, and in all the time I knew him he never faltered once on any song or story, he was a remarkable man, and his late wife Annie was a remarkable woman, who showed great kindness to my family when we moved to Westport.
“Mick was a stalwart in the pub. I don’t think people realise how popular he was. Everywhere on my travels, but especially in the States, people would always ask after him. Geraldine (Matt’s late wife) was very fond of him, he’d come in an make his own tea, he was part of the family and was in the pub practically every night since we opened. We will all miss him greatly.”
Following requiem Mass, a guard of honour was provided by local members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and the cortege stopped in silence outside Matt Molloy’s, as the whole of Westport came to a standstill. Mick was laid to rest in Aughavale Cemetery. He is survived by his sisters Annie, Josie and Bridget, nephews, nieces, other relatives and many friends.