The funeral service for Michael Byrne, affectionately known as ‘Old Man Belfield’, was held this morning at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Church, at UCD’s Belfield Campus. Byrne passed away on Monday, 11 January 2021 on the campus that was his home for over 30 years.
The mass began at 11 am and was officiated by UCD Chaplain, Father Eamonn Bourke. Due to Level 5 COVID restrictions only 10 mourners were allowed inside the church, however, the mass was live-streamed on the UCD YouTube channel and over 1,000 people attended the service remotely.
The mass began with Declan Wildes singing ‘The Parting Glass’ accompanied by organist Alan Fagan and the casket was covered with flowers and a UCD scarf.
Father Bourke described Michael Byrne as a person who “touched the hearts of so many people down through the years here in UCD and in the surrounding neighbourhoods. He was a consistent and important member of our community and will be sadly missed by so many.”
A member of the McCarthy family, who watched out for Michael over the past thirty years, explained that Michael was born in January 1949 and may have possibly passed on his own birthday. Reflecting on ‘the Dreamer’, a name that the family fondly gave to Byrne, McCarthy said that “Michael led a long and simple life…always with good and honest intentions” and added that Byrne spent the majority of his life at UCD.
“Michael had few vices; he never drank but he had one big vice and that was the John Player cigarettes which he consumed a lot.” McCarthy thanked all of those who cared for Michael such as community care agencies and local shopkeepers, including those at UCD, who gave him food and other items. He also particularly thanked the Director of Communications at UCD for organising the funeral, which was managed free of charge by Massey Bros Funeral Directors.
McCarthy continued that he and his family were overwhelmed by the genuine outpouring of grief and sadness and believe it is a testament to the mark left by Byrne. He also hopes that someone from Michael Byrne’s family will come forward. He concluded that UCD has lost a friend.
RIP.ie has created a virtual condolence book for those who wish to pay their respects.
Michael Byrne was brought to the Kilternan Park Cemetery who had kindly donated both the plot and headstone for his final resting place.
May he rest in peace.
Emma Hanrahan – Assistant News Editor