Hundreds at writer Binchy's funeral

The life, love, talent and generosity of acclaimed best-selling novelist Maeve Binchy have been remembered at her funeral.

The worlds of the arts, journalism and politics joined forces to pay tribute to Ireland's national treasure, who died on Monday.

Her husband, writer Gordon Snell, brother William and sister Joan led hundreds of mourners including Oscar-winning actress Brenda Fricker, who starred in the screen versions of some of Binchy's books.

Father William Stuart told the congregation in her native Dalkey in south Dublin each had their own memory of the 72-year-old storyteller, saying in his homily: "There isn't a person here or beyond here who cannot recall her infectious personality."

Laughter filled the Church of the Assumption as the priest recalled how Binchy once made a generous contribution to the church - but warned it could be spent on anything except statues or holy pictures.

Fr Stuart said Binchy had not been a religious person in a traditional sense, and died not having come to know God but he suspected that once she had got her bearings in heaven, she began to talk to the Almighty.

The service was short and simple, following Binchy's own final wishes and the only flowers were a large arrangement of roses on her coffin called Rosa Gordon Snell, which she had named after her 'beloved' as a gift.

Her neighbour, the Father Ted actor Frank Kelly, read the psalm, while her brother and their cousin, actress Kate Binchy, each recited a reading and Irish traditional music was also celebrated, with performances by Liam O'Flynn, Shaun Davey, Rita Connolly and Paddy Glackin. They included her Desert Island Discs favourite, O'Flynn's The Brendan Theme.

Actor Eamon Morrissey, author Claudia Carroll, broadcasters Pat Kenny and Vincent Browne, and journalist Nell McCafferty were among the hundreds packed in to the service as were aides-de-camp representing the President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The novelist, who died peacefully in hospital after a short illness, will be cremated at a private ceremony for family and close friends.