RIP Tony Broughan: A part of Dublin in the rare ‘aul times

by Gary Ibbotson

The streets of the capital turned blue on Tuesday as hundreds came out to bid a final farewell to Dublin’s biggest GAA fan, Tony Broughan.

Tony, aka Molly Malone, was laid to rest in his native Cabra as family, friends and fellow Dubs fans mourned the passing of a legend.

GAA supporters lined the 1.2km route from his home on Carnlough Road to the Church of the Most Precious Blood, forming a guard of honour for their hero.

The Sam Maguire cup was carried alongside Tony’s coffin in appreciation for his eight decades of loyal support for his beloved team.

Tony, famed for ringing his bell in full Molly Malone regalia on Hill 16, was described by parish priest Fr Michael O’Grady as “the ultimate Dublin supporter”.

A banner carried by Dublin fans read ‘Sorry I had to leave, but I’ve seen everything, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and five in a row. It’s time to say goodbye and be with my wife.

‘Best of luck to all GAA fans and thank you for the happiness you gave me. I’m up here in heaven looking over yous.

‘Hill 16 is Dublin only.’

Those who couldn’t be there for Tony’s final journey hung Dublin flags from their homes as the city basked in a sea of blue.

PIC: MAXPIX

The dad-of-eight was described by Fr O’Grady as “a great family man” who “left his life on his own terms and in his own time”.

The parish priest said the song ‘Dublin in the rare aul’ times’ came to mind when he heard of Tony’s passing last Wednesday because he deserves his place in history.

He added: “How many people are thinking how Tony blessed their lives – family, and people from afar? He was a tonic and lightened many a burden.

“Tony’s connection with the Dubs, Hill 16, Croke Park spanned many decades. As true a Blue as anyone, his memory will live on. That dress, that bell, his wit.”

Mourners also heard of the many kind deeds carried out behind the scenes as Tony helped to see “many a family fed, many a home heated”.

Gifts brought to the altar symbolising his long and rich life included a football, a piece of coal, newspapers, a radio, and his iconic bell and dress.

The church swelled with applause and cheers when Tony’s son Terry raised the Sam Maguire at the altar at the end of the service.

His daughter-in-law Christine, with Terry by her side, told how his religion was GAA and he “lived for the matches”.

She revealed: “He started a coal round. He would get Terry to go around and collect the coal orders.

“He would travel the length and breadth of the country to watch the Dubs and Heffs army. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received since Tony’s passing.”

“So in Tony’s words, Up the Dubs and I’ll see you in Coppers!”

Christopher Flower Gunning and Peter Weldridge, friends of Tony Broughan as they led the funeral cortege as they went by Croke Park, Dublin with their horse Paddy. PIC: MAXPIX

Social media has been flooded with tributes to Tony, who had a mischievous grin and a warm welcome for all arriving to Croke Park on match day, since his passing.

Writing on the Hill 16 Army Facebook page Barry Fennell said his loss made him think of the death of another of Dublin’s favourite sons, Ronnie Drew, in 2008.

He said: “This was repeated as a city came to terms with the news that its GAA teams greatest supporter, a man who embodied all that was great and good about attending Dublin games, had rang his famous bell for the last time.

“If you’ve ever attended a Dublin game then you know Tony Broughan. If you’ve ever watched a Dublin game on television then you know Tony Broughan.

“A Dublin GAA and GAA institution who was as a part of Dublin match days as much as singing Come On You Boys In Blue.

“Oftentimes leading that famous chorus would be Tony, as our very own Molly Malone rang his bell and lifted his beloved Dubs with his unwavering support.

“No match day was ever complete without seeing, having a chat or getting a photo with Tony and not just if you were a Dub. Tony always happily posed for photos with fans from all counties who soon became friends.

“You couldn’t help but love Tony. His knowledge and passion for GAA was infectious and he was an incredible ambassador for Dublin on his travels up and down the country.

“The life and soul of a bus on away trips, he would have everyone present singing and laughing in equal measure.”

Tony, who worked for Dublin Corporation, once famously claimed “I’m gonna die on the Hill”, such was his devotion to the Dubs.

He was predeceased by his loving wife Rose three years ago, and is sadly missed by his daughters Rosemary, Patricia, Audrey, Martina, Jacinta and sons Anthony, Terry and Kenneth.

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