Twas a Grand and Glorious Irish Wake

by Jule Spohn


I just got back a little while ago from attending the funeral Mass for Newark's own John F. Cryan up at Sacred Heart Church in Vailsburg. And what a send off he had.

I don't know what the seating capacity of Sacred Heart Church is (perhaps some of you old time parishioners will know) but every seat in the church was taken. There were 10 priests con-celebrating the Mass, 6 altar boys and girls, Bag Pipers from the Essex County Emerald Society Police and Fire Pipe Band and the Essex County Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh Pipe Band.

They had South Orange Avenue blocked off for two blocks from Sanford Ave going west. There were about twenty police cars, twenty Essex Sheriff's officers cars, about 10 motorcycle's, and four flower cars.

When the casket was carried into the church, and his grandchildren acted as pall bearers, they were followed by about 100 or so family members. In attendance were the high and the mighty - local politicians, cops, detectives, sheriff dept officers, friends, and otherwise just the plain old common "drunks" - like me - who frequented his many bars and restaurants.

Newark's Irish (past and present) were there in full force. While the bag pipers were playing Amazing Grace they had an air force"fly-by" coming over the loud speakers with about four fly-by's (on tape only).

The eulogy was given by his son-in-law Joseph Donohue who spoke of John's love of Newark and of Vailsburg and of Sacred Heart Church in particular. He told of how John was very instrumental in getting the new Sacred Heart School built way back when. He ran thru the list off all of the bars and restaurants that John had owned and operated. He spoke of his many trips back to Ireland and his home county of County Roscommon. Between Joseph's and Msgr. Kevin Flannigan's remarks about John's common shenanigans they brought many laughs out of those in attendance.

I don't think that Sacred Heart Church, or that neighborhood for the matter, had that many old-time Newarkers in their presence for the past 35 years.

All in all, John had a grand and glorious sendoff.

On the cover of the handout they gave to everyone was the beautiful old Irish Blessing: May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again may the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

Email this memory to a friend.
Enter recipient's e-mail: