To the strains of Frank Sinatra’s ‘I Did It My Way’, the remains of Jim White, hotelier and former TD, were brought into St. Anne’s Church of Ireland, Ballyshannon, on Friday afternoon for a service of thanksgiving.
By Michael Daly, Editor
The church was packed to the capacity, among the attendance, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD and Col. Brendan McAndrew, representing President Michael D. Higgins.
Earlier Mr White’s remains had been transferred to a two horse drawn carriage following the journey from Donegal town where he had been waked for two days.
Throughout the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of James Mitchell White, there were moments of both levity and sadness. At times poignant, hymns from the congregation and solos sung by Ms Farah Bogle mingled with well chosen words, not least from Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Alan Mitchell, Sligo.
Earlier, in his address to mourners, Methodist Minister, the Rev. Ian D. Henderson, Donegal town, told mourners it was ironic but appropriate that Mr White, a Presbyterian, was being buried in a Church of Ireland Church with a Methodist Minister officiating. He said Mr White supported all the churches and loved nothing better than to sing in church.
His son, Marcus, delivering a twenty minute plus reflection, said he would do so without notes as he wanted to speak from the heart. Wearing a brightly coloured shirt, he explained his attire.
“Daddy, (‘I’m over 50 but he will always be Daddy to me’), told me not to wear black today, so I’m honouring his wish,” he said. In what was a memorable and quite unique reflection, Marcus related a series of stories to explain the person he felt his father was. In his words and gestures, in his turn of phrase as he spoke Marcus brought back memories of his late father. It was uncanny.
He said his father loved to make money but wasn’t materialistic, adding: “He loved a bargain.” When he concluded the congregation responded with a round of applause.
Mr White, who was waked at the Abbey Hotel, where thousands paid their respects, was earlier in the day given a memorable send off from Donegal town with huge numbers of people coming on to the Diamond to bade a final fond farewell as his remains were brought by hearse from there to his native Ballyshannon.
Just outside Ballyshannon the remains were transferred from a hearse to a horse drawn carriage in deference to Mr White’s ability with and love for horses. As the horse drawn carriage made its way up the Cloughan, onto Bishop Street and through the town before turning on the Diamond to Main Street and the entrance to St Anne’s, it was flanked by Fine Gael party colleagues, including Deputies John Perry, Dinny McGinley and recently appointed Minister Joe McHugh, all part of a guard of honour of Fine Gael party members.
Paddy Harte Junior, Raphoe, was there also, representing his father, Paddy Snr, a life long friend and colleague of Mr White, who was unable to attend the service.
In Ballyshannon hundreds lined the streets and businesses closed their doors as a mark of respect as the funeral cortege made its way through the town where he had been born on January 2nd, 1938.
Following the Service, as a light misty rain began to fall gently, the burial took place in the adjoining graveyard at St. Anne’s Church which overlooks Ballyshannon.
May he rest in peace.
For further coverage please see our Monday Donegal Democrat and Donegal People’s Press.