Farewell Letter to Mick Cuffe .. From Michael Mullen

Mick Cuffe, People from County Mayo in the West of Ireland

The world is an emptier place without you

Dear Mick,

You could not believe the send off you got. The tears shed in the church would have filled a silver tassie. Others would not squeeze a thimble full out of people’s eyes but these tears were honest and free flowing because everyone held you in such affection.

And believe it or not there was a dash of humour during the Mass. The priest mentioned that you worked your first miracle. You closed the pubs in Castlebar when you passed through on your way to the church and someone else noted your great devotion to Padre Pio and that you remarked in the photo carried to the altar that Padre Pio held a glass of Guinness in his hand.

The music was something grand and you would have loved the trumpet solo and the guitar music. Your daughter sang ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ with a strong and luminous voice. You would have been proud of her as we were all proud of you. That was why we were there and if there were tickets on sale at the church door for twenty euros we would have paid for a seat. It was nothing that you did not deserve.

The priest paid you great tribute. He spoke of your humanity, your warm forgiveness, your trying illness, your enjoyment of life. I even took notes to refresh my memory, something I never do in the church.

And when you were passing from our midst we gave you a warm clap to thank you for a star performance. They played a song from your tape called “I did it My Way”. Ol Blue Eyes, Frankie, would have been proud of the rendition. It seared the heart with its honesty. I never knew you could sing so well.

You were carried to Ballintubber and led by a lone piper we buried you in ancient and sacred earth. It was a warm summer’s day although we have not passed into autumn. The sky was deep blue and the distant mountains looked like mountains of Greece. We went to Corley’s later. I hope you don’t mind.

The world is an empty place without you. I met you two weeks ago when we celebrated Brother Joseph’s passing. You were a great friend and he appreciated your true worth as we all did. He appreciated the artist in you. We enjoyed your company in Johnny McHales. We were delighted when you arrived and sad when you departed. I knew you were not well the last time we met but you still had the sparkle in your eye, still had the roguish smile and you still enjoyed good company.

The life of a troubadour is never easy. You could have made it on the great stage but your stage was Mayo and we appreciated that you remained amongst us. You wouldn’t have a bad word said about anyone and there was never hatred in your gentle soul and if you were aggrieved by anyone you readily forgave and I believe that is the first and only Christian virtue.

There is much more I can say but you know the way it is with newspapers. You have to be short and brief. Well the good weather is set to continue. May the earth lie lightly on your generous and innocent soul.

Michael Mullen. Conn Telegraph 18th September 2002