FINAL FAREWELL: Close family and friends of the late Tony McGrane gathered at Gilgandra Cemetery on Friday evening for the interment of the former Dubbo MP’s ashes next to the grave of his parents.It was probably a bit too much to expect In Top Class to win at Rosehill on Saturday.
Instead it finished tenth spoiling, but only to the tiniest of extents, the last formal act in the farewell of the late Tony McGrane.
On Friday evening in the baking heat of summer’s hottest day, about 60 people gathered under the shade of kurrajong trees at Gilgandra Cemetery to witness the interment of Mr McGrane’s ashes next to the grave of his father and mother.
Buried with his ashes were a copy of his inaugural speech to Parliament and its condolence motion of several weeks ago. So too was a crunched up form guide, a symbol of Mr McGrane’s love of the punt and a day at the races, complete with notations about a couple of “sure things.”
John Ferrari, a mate of the man described as one of the most significant public figures in Dubbo’s history, found a most appropriately named chance in race seven – long shot In Top Class.
“It describes Tony to a tee,” he said.
The continuation of Mr McGrane’s farewell, as Father Paul Devitt described the simple graveside service, was a far cry from the State-like funeral inside St Brigid’s Church in Dubbo four months ago.
This time around there wasn’t a politician or dignitary in sight. This was an occasion for his close friends and acquaintances, many of them from the Gilgandra district where Mr McGrane spent most of his life.
They were joined by his mates from Dubbo including Jim Lang, Jim Dormer, Bob Berry, Peter Carolan, Lionel and Joan Walsh, Ray Nolan and Gwen Crampton. Also there was Tony Kelly, the retired general manager of Dubbo City Council and the other half of Mr McGrane’s highly successful eight-year stint as mayor.
Father Devitt told them all that their relationship with Mr McGrane was not at an end because of his death.
“His spirit will continue to guide his family and friends. He lives on in the presence of God and in the memories of others.”
Earlier Joan Walsh spoke of Mr McGrane’s “effervescent” personality. She used the words of poet Adam Linsday Gordon:
“Life is mostly froth and bubble.
“Two things stand like stone.
“Kindness in another’s trouble,
“Courage in your own.”
Graham Robbins could relate to the kindness. The former Gilgandra Shire colleague of Mr McGrane – “and also his electrician” – recalled the time his sons found themselves on the wrong side of the law: “Tony wrote such wonderful character references about them that I couldn’t recognise them.”
Ross Whalan recalled his sporting experiences with Mr McGrane, especially on the cricket field.
“Of course, he liked a drink after the game but would always disappear about five to seven for an hour,” he recalled.
Even back then he rarely missed Saturday evening mass.
On Friday night more than a few drinks, shouted by his sister Maureen McKenzie, were downed in Tony McGrane’s honour at the Royal Hotel, the pub he owned at the time of his death.
Hanging on the wall of the front bar was a photograph of the man himself.
Tony McGrane was never one to miss a party, especially this one.
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