Flowers from Dermot O’Neill’s garden adorn coffin as he is laid to rest



Fresh flowers picked from Dermot O Neill’s walled garden adorned the coffin of one of Ireland’s best-known gardening personalities this afternoon.

undreds of mourners gathered at the Church of our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock to remember the popular broadcaster, who passed away suddenly at the age of 58.

Friends and families wore fresh flowers pinned to their lapels, while lone piper Eamonn Walsh played Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone and walked Dermot out to ‘The Brendan Voyage’.

Brenda O Donohue and Thelma Mansfield, TV producer Philip Kampf, and Cancer specialist Professor John Crown were among those who gathered to pay their respects.

Outside the church, friends recalled a man who was “as bold as brass” and had a “tremendous sense of devilment”.

Deborah Spillane, a television producer who worked with Dermot on the RTE show Garden Heaven, recalled “one of the best days of filming” when Dermot came up with the idea to compare the perfume in a bouquet of flowers to the smell that could be savoured from the perfect bottle of wine.

“Dermot was very sensible and said we had to film ‘cutaways’ of every rose at the beginning of the day because he wisely noted once we started drinking the wine we would forget to do everything else.

“He had a sense of devilment and he would suss people out very quickly. He had nicknames for people I couldn’t possibly tell you about.”

His sister Carol also described a man who had a love for the finer things in life – including opera, wine and antiques – which he would ship to Ireland if he spotted them, while holidaying abroad.

She said at 17 Dermot decided to host a party for friends which consisted of an eight course meal and drafted in his siblings as wait staff. “The menu, décor and table was meticulously planned and the appetiser was specially imported beluga caviar.”

His generosity was also recalled when a friend shared an anecdote of how she had once bumped into Dermot while out for a birthday dinner with her husband. “Before long a bottle of champagne appeared” and Louise said “knowing Dermot, it was likely to be a bottle of Dom Perignon”.

The congregation heard how he was a “movie and history buff” however it was his love of gardening that was nurtured as a child when his grandmother would send him out to pick caterpillars off her vegetable patch.

Before long, he could recite the Latin names of dozens of flowers and showed an “entrepreneurial spirit”, employing his sibling to go door-to-door selling boxes of plants and flowers – generously sharing 50pc of the profits.

After being introduced to the world of television, he became a regular contributor on Live at Three, The Garden Show and Open House.

He was also a regular guest on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.

He is the only Irish broadcaster to have interviewed both Oprah Winfrey and David Attenborough.

In his final days, Mr O’Neill, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009, found peace in the practice of meditation during his illness. Just last week he told his sisters that it had brought him a sense of “calm.”

As a horticulturist he also received the “ultimate gift” – the magnolia campbellii is now named in his honour at Mount Congreve Gardens.



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