By Patrick Markey
Accompanied by a fire department pipe band, hundreds of mourners gathered in New York on Wednesday, June 14, to remember Irish tenor Frank Patterson, the singer who made America his home after forging a hugely successful musical career on both sides of the Atlantic.
In a homily to Patterson in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Bishop Patrick Ahern said the singer had reveled in the pleasure his talents had given to audiences whether in Carnegie Hall or a small parish church.
"Frank was without guile. He heartily loved to sing, but for the happiness his golden voice gave to others," Ahern said. "Into each song, each time he sang it, he poured his whole heart."
Patterson, who was 61, died on Saturday, June 10, in New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center after a brief struggle with a brain tumor.
A devout Catholic, Patterson had hoped to sing Ave Maria at the funeral of New York’s Cardinal John O’Connor, who also died of a brain tumor last month. But Patterson’s condition worsened the night before the cardinal’s funeral and he was unable to attend, Ahern said.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
A recording of Patterson’s own version of the hymn was played at his New York funeral Mass.
Outside the cathedral, John Kiernan remembered performing with Patterson with the Hibernian Festival Singers for an annual Christmas concert in Long Island.
Last year, he said, Patterson had hinted that he may have been ill, but had promised to return.
"He said he would be back next year. It’s so sudden for us. He was a very personable man and we enjoyed singing with him," Kiernan said.
Patterson’s remains were flown back to arrive in Dublin for another funeral Mass in the Pro Cathedral last Thursday. Leading figures from Ireland’s musical and political circles gathered to pay respects as the singer was laid to rest in his home town Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.