Rita Fagan: Tribute to Activist Bernie Dwyer 1943 – 2013

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For those who could not attend Bernie Dwyer’s gathering to say their last farewell, it was a fitting and beautiful tribute organised by her family. The setting was the round room of the Mansion House. It was a stunning space. The lights above those who gathered were like stars creating a peaceful, soft and serene atmosphere. As Bernie entered this room with all her family, friends, neighbours and comrades walking behind, Victor Jara of Chile was sung representing Latin America and her connection with the place.

Humanist Suzie Kennedy opened the service talking about Bernie’s life, her struggle with serious illness and her last days in St. Francis Hospice, Raheny. She spoke about the unconditional love and commitment to Bernie by her family. They had all journeyed with her every step of her eight years battle against cancer. Her strength for the fight to live was enormous. Her passing on the 10th of July was very peaceful. Her friend from Howth set the tone for what followed, serious, sad, funny, creative and loving.

All of those who spoke and sang had very personal and very political things to describe their relationship and friendship with Bernie over their years of knowing her. They also described the commitment to her local and global work in Ireland and her beloved Cuba and its beautiful people. Cuban Ambassador to Ireland: Teresita de Caridad Trujillo Hernández payed tribute to her solidarity and commitment to Cuba. Bernie was involved with Cuba from 1988 and lived there from 1998. She talked about Bernie’s commitment for worldwide solidarity for the campaign to free the five Cuban Anti-Terrorist Fighters who were given unfair prison sentences in Miami, United States. Bernie had travelled across the USA, Canada and Europe highlighting the injustice to both Cuba and these five men. Even in the light of her illness she worked tirelessly to break the silence.

In her life as a journalist and film maker Bernie received numerous significant awards. She served Radio Havana Cuba and the Islands’ short wave window to the world well. She had many listeners across the Americas and she often joked of her fan club! She introduced many to the Island of Cuba and its people. Bernie was an excellent mother and grandmother and as Lisa Anne said; she was a committed friend, comrade and revolutionary.

‘Blue Moon’, Bernie’s party song was sung and also as people made their way to say goodbye ‘Guantanamera’ played. Bernie then had a private cremation led by her friend Sr. Jo Kennedy at Glasnevin Crematorium. Both services were very serene and beautiful. If was a celebration of a life well lived in the service of the oppressed. Bernie would have enjoyed it herself! Bernie passionately worked for a different world. She had great courage and dignity throughout her long illness. She is soft in our thoughts and we mourn her friendship with dignity and keep her spirit alive through continuing the struggle through our own work and commitment to making this world a more equal place for everyone. Another world is possible.

1 comment

  1. Kathleen McCann

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