Today we said our farewells to my uncle Brian Fisher, who lived in Raheny in Dublin. Although he spent almost all of his 89 years in the capital city, he was born in Derry, like my father Des, his older brother, and their younger sister Deirdre. They grew up in a house at West End Park, overlooking the Bogside. It was therefore very appropriate that Phil Coulter’s ‘The Town I Loved so Well’ was played by the musicians from Baldoyle (Aifreann Gaeilge) including my cousin’s wife Eilís as the remains were leaving the church to be brought to Glasnevin Crematorium. The Coulters were neighbours in West End Park. My father has previously described what it was like growing up in Derry in those days in the 1920s. No-one knows the real reason my grandparents Michael Louis Fisher and his wife Evelyn Kate moved to Dublin, but one possible explanation is that it was because it was a mixed marriage, my grandfather being a Catholic and my grandmother a Protestant. Her maiden name was Shier, a family that we have traced back to the Palatinate in Germany in 1600. Richard, her father, was in the RIC and is buried in the City cemetery in Derry. His forebears came to work on the estate in Adare in County Limerick, where many of the Palatine families settled such as the Bovenizers and the Switzers. Brian was vey interested in that element of our family history and had done much research which in recent years he shared with my father. One thing about Brian I never knew until the removal yesterday when the parish priest passed on the sympathy of Cardinal Desmond Connell, Archbishop Emeritus of Dublin. He had been a contemporary of Brian’s at Belvedere College SJ. Until then I thought I had been the first of our family to receive a Jesuit education! Brian’s career was at the Dublin Port and Docks Board (as it then was). Talking to my cousins yesterday I understand that in his role as Paymaster he sometimes found himself delivering wages in cash to unlikely places like the North Bull lighthouse in the days before electronic funds transfer! Some of his grandchildren read the prayers of the faithful at the Mass at St John the Evangelist in Kilbarrack/Foxfield parish. Along with his wife Nuala (Henderson) he played a leading role in the development in the 1980s of the new church and he also acted as a lay minister. One of the prayers was a beautiful summary of his life and what he stood for:
“Brian grew up in Derry and then spent most of his life in Dublin. He was proud of his multi-cultural heritage and was open and respectful to all traditions on this small island. Lord, we pray for continuing efforts for peace and reconciliation in Ireland“.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.