The Irish Times           Tuesday, October 19, 1999

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Family and friends
mourn great tenor

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By Emmet Oliver

Mourners at the funeral of singer Josef Locke were told he was "a great communicator and a great tenor" who brought immense pleasure into people's lives.

Father Denis Harrington told a Requiem Mass at Clane parish church, Co Kildare, yesterday there were three Josef Lockes - the singer, the family man and the man of faith.

A small group of mourners, consisting mainly of family, close friends and other singers, attended the Mass and subsequent cremation at Glasnevin crematorium in Dublin.

As the famous voice was finally stilled, Father Harrington told the gathering that while the public adored Locke's singing only a small group of people knew the dedicated family man who deeply cherished his children and wife.

He said other people would remember the singer as Mr Joseph McLauglin, his real name, which, because it was too long to fit on promotional posters, had to be substituted with Josef Locke.

The singer who began his working life as a chicken plucker in his home town of Derry was described as "larger than life" by Father Harrington - a phrase used by many of the mourners who gathered outside the church to swap stories about the often controversial entertainer. Among the mourners were fellow singers Mary Sheridan and Rose Tynan.

Just as Locke's The Town I Loved So Well could provoke deep emotion among an audience, renditions of Ave Maria and I Hear You Calling by one of Locke's successors, Anthony Kearns, towards the end of the Mass, drew abundant tears from the congregation. When the service ended the 82year-old singer's body was borne from the church by, among others, his sons Karl and Peter. His widow Carmel followed the coffin accompanied by the the singer's other children, Yvette, Leta and Nikky. The Taoiseach's aide-de-camp, Capt Michael Kiernan, was also in attendance.

While Locke's most famous piece, Hear My Song, was not sung at the Mass, nothing could stop some of his older friends humming it among themselves as the cortège headed for Dublin. As one friend, who wished not be named, said, "he had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, but liked it that way".