FINAL CURTAIN CALL FOR AN IRISH ACTING LEGEND; Stars of stage and screen pay tribute to Donal.
In a moving two-hour service, tribute after tribute flowed to mark the life of arguably one of the country's greatest actors.
More than 400 mourners packed Terenure College's chapel in Dublin for the noon service.
Among them were actors John Hurt, Colm Meaney and Falling For A Dancer star Liam Cunningham.
Others included Fair City's Jim Bartley, actress Rachel Dowling, Strumpet City writer James Plunket, Ballykissangel star Lorcan Crannich and Labour Party leader Ruairi Quinn.
Former Minister for the Arts Michael D. Higgins summed up the mood of McCann's family and friends in a moving 10-minute eulogy.
"With him goes a piece of ourselves and left in us is something of Donal," he said of the actor, who died of cancer last Saturday.
The 56-year-old star of stage and screen, whose film credits include John Huston's The Dead and Neil Jordan's High Spirits, died after an 18-month battle against the illness.
Higgins referred to McCann as a "truculent gimp aimed at excellence", a comment which drew roars of laughter from the congregation.
In a faltering voice, Higgins also praised the dead actor for the "elimination of everything redundant and anything that might impede the manifestation of the beautiful".
"He was a fine and handsome man who was able to release truly horrible aspects of humanity," he said. This was an even greater achievement than his more dashing roles."
Earlier, McCann's first cousin Fr Donal Berney paid tribute to a "truly wonderful but complicated personality" whose "deep and sensitive feelings found poetic expression".
"He was sometimes as close to us as our own living rooms when we turned on the television," Fr Berney, who conducted the service, said.
"No matter what part he played, he always played himself. He would never compromise his talent for anybody.
"In life he used his God-given talents to the full but when a man has struggled with cancer for 18 months, then death must have come as a happy release."
Various gifts that symbolised aspects of the actor's life were brought forward during the service.
They included a poster from Sebastian Barry's 1995 play The Steward of Christendom, arguably one of McCann's greatest critical triumphs.
Another gift, a copy of the Racing Post, drew a laugh from the mourners who knew of the actor's love of horses.
And his "well-thumbed" copy of the New Testament was also presented.
Actor John Hurt, who fought back tears as he spoke, said after the service: "We hung out a lot and went back a long way.
"It's so hard to put into words about how I feel about his passing but it is just terrible to see him gone.
"I wouldn't wish what happened to him on my worst enemy."
Dubliners' folk singer Ronnie Drew said: "It's very sad that someone so young and so brilliant should be taken from us.
"The last real time I saw him was a few months back and we went to Wexford to see a horse.
"But my memories of him are full of the sort of carry-on we used to get up to together in London. He'll be sorely missed."
Comedian Dave Allen said: "I've lost a very old friend.
"Even though he's gone, there will always be the great memories.
"Together we were a couple of old bitches. If I recall anything about him, it was when we used to sit back and bitch about the world."
McCann was buried later in the afternoon in Monaseed Cemetery near Gorey, Co Wexford, where his family live.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jul 21, 1999|
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