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Friday, 14 May, 1999, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Ballykissangel star mourned
ballykissangel
Sweeney (front row, far left) with the cast of Ballykissangel
Stars of the BBC drama Ballykissangel joined more than a thousand mourners at the funeral of Birdy Sweeney, who played Eamon Byrne in the series.

The 68-year-old collapsed and died in Dublin earlier this week while on his way filming the fifth series in County Wicklow.

He was buried in his home town of Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland after a service attended by family, friends and members of the cast.

Tina Kellegher, who plays Niamh, Tony Doyle (Brian Quigley) and Lorcan Cranitch (Sean Dillon) joined Sweeney's widow Alice and their eight children for the Requiem Mass at St Patrick's Church.

sweeney
Birdy Sweeney: "Held audiences captivated with his humour"
Monsignor Liam McAntagart paid tribute to him, saying: "He held audiences captivated with his humour. He was a talented man and he gave generously of his talents.

"One old resident of the town described him to me as a good, kindly generous man. Considering the circles in which he moved, he was a simple man of simple tastes."

He was first given his nickname when he made his debut mimicking blackbirds as an 11-year-old on BBC Radio Ulster.

In his acting career Sweeney appeared in The Crying Game, which won an Oscar for director Neil Jordan's screenplay, and the TV adaptation of Roddy Doyle's novel The Snapper.

He was also in a US movie version of Moll Flanders and recently the films The Butcher Boy and Divorcing Jack, alongside actor David Thewlis.

Sweeney had been working on a new series of Give My Head Peace for BBC Northern Ireland which was due to be broadcast in a few weeks.

See also:

12 May 99 | Entertainment
Ballykissangel actor dies
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