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A life well lived: some tears and plenty of laughter at Mick O'Toole's funeral

Mick O'Toole: charismatic Gold Cup and Classic-winning trainer
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Ciaran O'Toole set the tone at the funeral mass for his father Mick on Monday when, before proceedings started, he told the large congregation in the Carmelite Church in Kildare that "it is a day for the celebration of a life and not for anything sorrowful".

He described his father's life as one that was "well-lived" and that Micko had "dined with the Queen, holidayed in Barbados, flew on Concorde and played golf with Tiger Woods, amongst other things".

And he gave special mention to his mother Una, saying she had plenty of aggravation to put up with it during her 60 years with Micko but had learned to cope very well.

O'Toole, who died on Thursday aged 86, trained successfully, winning many big prizes over jumps and on the Flat, and a replica of the 1977 Cheltenham Gold Cup, which he won with Davy Lad, was present on the altar for the mass, which was celebrated by Fr Adrian Carbery.

There was nothing O'Toole relished more than a bet, and on that topic his son said: "He was once asked what he'd do if he won the Lotto and his reply was that he'd find a 10-1 shot and have it all on to try to get out of trouble. What he didn't realise was that when he met my mother he won the Lotto."

Mags O'Toole: once told her teacher her father was like Jesus
Mike Dillon, Ladbrokes former PR man and a long-time friend of O'Toole, delivered the eulogy and described the former trainer as "arguably the most iconic figure in Irish racing," adding that "nobody present in the church had ever spent a dull day with Micko."

And Dillon related many hilarious stories about O'Toole, including the well-aired one about Dillon having breakfast in the O'Toole home on the Curragh on the morning of the 1980 Irish Sweeps Hurdle when Micko asked him what price was Carrig Willy for the day's big race.

The answer was 40-1 and Micko, who trained the horse, and his mates Jack Doyle, Crawford Scott, Richie Gernon and Raymie Eastwood, all wanted a piece of the action.

They got on and Carrig Willy duly delivered under Tony Quinn, teaching Dillon a lesson – that bacon and eggs come very expensive on the Curragh.

Dillon also related a story going back many years about O'Toole coming home from Doncaster Sales with six store horses who had cost him a total of 300,000gns.

Mike Dillon: found bacon and eggs come dear on the Curragh
He had no owners for them and when they were being unloaded in the yard, Bobby O'Ryan, head man at the time, asked Micko: "Are you not going to have sleepless nights?" Quick as a flash O'Toole replied : "I'm not, but Harry Beeby is." Beeby was then boss of the sales company.

And there was a story about Mags O'Toole, Micko's daughter, being asked by her teacher to describe her father and saying her dad was like Jesus because he lived in a stable. At the time O'Toole had moved to the Curragh from Dublin ahead of his family joining him and was living in a stable with little more than a black-and-white television and a kettle for company.

The attendance at the funeral included many who worked for O'Toole years ago, including Grand National-winning trainer Martin Brassil, commentator Dessie Scahill, former jockeys Bob Townend, AC (Tony)  Brennan and John Murtagh, no relation of JP (Johnny) Murtagh.

The training community, jockeys past and present, the bookmaking fraternity, owners, breeders, Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board were well represented, while Barney Curley was one of the early arrivals in the church.

Outside, after the mass, there were a few tears but a lot of laughter as different groups engaged in stories about the larger than life character before he was taken to St Conleth's Cemetery in Newbridge for a private burial.


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Mags O'Toole, Micko's daughter, was asked by her teacher to describe her father and said her dad was like Jesus because he lived in a stable
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