Willie Duggan late for his own funeral

Cortege passes by his childhood home on way to St Mary's Cathedral

Sean Keane


Sean Keane



Hero's last journey

Willie Duggan's remains arriving at St Mary's Cathedral

In keeping with his 'casual' attitude towards training, rugby warrior, Willie Duggan was 18 minutes late for his own funeral. Chief celebrant at his Mass in St Mary's Cathedral in the centre of Kilkenny city, fr Frank Purcell had the congregation in stitches with his homily after the gospel.

He started by talking about all the lies he and Willie told each other over the years and about all the rows they had.

"I don’t think I ever left him without having to Google some expression or other to see what it might mean and let me tell you and that sometimes it was none too pretty," Fr Frank said.

He then changed his tone to describe the 'real' Willie Duggan.

"Anyone who knew Willie well, knew there was an inwardly serious person there, a spiritual presence, perhaps unorthodox, 

that you could easily discern," Fr Frank  said.

To all his family,  Willie was 'a force of life',  a tame Lamb sometimes in wolves clothing but they all learnt so much from him.

Willie was kind; he was wise and he was prayerful in his own, private, and uncomplicated way. He didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve.

He should showed extraordinary love to all his family and was so proud of each of them and they returned that

love every bit as forcefully as they received it.

And, of course, his total friend, and love and soulmate was his beloved wife Ellen," Fr Frank said.