A fine farewell: Ireland's send-off to Stephen Gately

The famous of the music industry mingled with those who had known him all his life at an emotional funeral service for the Boyzone star

By Kate Youde
Sunday 23 October 2011 04:40

The world has "lost one of its brightest stars", the singer Ronan Keating told mourners who gathered yesterday for the funeral of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately.

About 1,000 mourners and well-wishers lined the streets outside St Laurence O'Toole Church in Dublin, where 500 family, friends and celebrities gathered. They listened to the service, relayed on loudspeakers, as Keating, joined by band mates Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy, delivered tributes to their "brother".

The 33-year-old, who had forged a successful West End musical career, was found dead at his holiday home in Majorca last Saturday. A post-mortem revealed he died of natural causes.

Choking back tears as he delivered his eulogy, Keating told mourners, who included members of the boy band Westlife, Sir Elton John's partner David Furnish, singer Jason Donovan and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, "life will never be the same". He added: "he was a man, a friend, a son, a husband and a hero".

Keating vowed that, "by hook or by crook", those who loved Gately would complete a children's book, The Tree of Seasons, that the singer had been close to finishing. The late star's last message on social networking site Twitter said he was busy working on the project.

As mourners filed into the church, X Factor judge and band founder Louis Walsh described Gately as "a great person". He added: "It's a difficult day but we have to celebrate his life."

Sir Elton, who is on tour, sent a bouquet of yellow flowers, which was placed near the entrance of the church. Singers George Michael and Cheryl Cole plus members of Take That were among others to send condolences.

At the end of the service, the four remaining Boyzone members helped carry the coffin out of the church. Each also bore a tattoo with the dates "76 09" to honour Gately. They spent Friday night holding a wake at the church in the working-class neighbourhood where Gately grew up.

His parents, Margaret and Martin, brothers Mark, Alan and Tony, sister Michelle and civil partner Andrew Cowles had also visited the church for a private prayer vigil.

Fans travelled from around the world to pay their respects, with some holding their own all-night vigil outside the church. Wendy Lee, 26, travelled from Taiwan. "I just cry and can't sleep, I'm very upset," she told Sky News.

Gately was cremated at Glasnevin Cemetery, after which 450 invited guests attended a funeral party at the city's Four Seasons hotel.

David Furnish, who introduced Gately to Mr Cowles, said simply the world is a "much less bright place without him" and described him as "so full of energy and positivity". He added: "I think sometimes God wants the good pure souls early. I can't make sense of it any other way."

The Moir controversy: And now the police are involved in the row...

The backlash against Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir intensified yesterday when the Metropolitan Police received a complaint from a member of the public in relation to alleged homophobic comments in her column on Stephen Gately's death. Having written, "After a night of clubbing, Cowles [Gately's partner] and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment.... a game of canasta... was not what was on the cards", Moir continued: "Once again... the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out...."

At the singer's funeral, his friend David Furnish attacked what he called media speculation. "A lot of the things that have been written are deeply insensitive," he said. "They are ignorant.... The coroner's ruling was decisive. Stephen was a wonderful man. We should remember that and celebrate the great things he brought to the world."

Moir's article on Friday prompted more than 1,000 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission. She wrote: "Under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."

Kate Youde

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments