AUTHOR, broadcaster and former newspaper columnist Nuala O'Faolain lost her battle against cancer just a month after she revealed in a moving RTE radio interview with her friend Marian Finucane that she was dying.She died, aged 68, at the Blackrock Hospice in Dublin on Friday night. She had moved to Galway from New York after the cancer was diagnosed three months ago.Conor Brady, her former editor at The Irish Times, where she wrote a column for a number of years, led a host of tributes from across all walks of life all over the nation. "She was, without doubt, one of the most eloquent and compelling writers in that college of voices that filled the opinion columns of The Irish Times in the years in which I was privileged to be editor," he said."For a time, certainly, she was the most influential writer in the newspaper; not perhaps in regard to politics or public affairs but in the manner in which she touched upon and influenced the lives of ordinary men and women up and down the country."O'Faolain never married, but the love of her life was writer Nell McCafferty. They lived together for 13 years before parting in acrimony. Their friendship was repaired in O'Faolain's last months.McCafferty said she and O'Faolain were "near perfect" traveling companions. "When Nuala and I stepped off a plane, the world was full of pleasure and interest," she said.Writer Colm Tibn, a friend for almost 30 years, said she was "the best company in the world" when they attended the opera together in New York."The level of gossip at the interval was just terrific, but she also took in the music with her body in a way you could actually feel beside you," he said.Finucane, also a close friend, recalled the radio interview and said that O'Faolain was inundated with good wishes after she spoke frankly about her illness.Finucane said she had never experienced such a reaction to any other program. "Nuala was ruthlessly truthful and honest. We're very good at celebrating the life of somebody who has died. But what she was talking about were her fears in coping with the reality of dying," she said.Educated at University College Dublin, University of Hull and Oxford University, O'Faolain worked as a television producer and journalist before writing the international bestseller, Are You Somebody?, in 1996.She went on to write a novel, My Dream of You, a second volume of memoirs called Almost There and a biography The Story of Chicago May.She was a daughter of the late Terry O'Sullivan, who wrote the "Dubliner's Diary" column on the Evening Press.Her funeral at Glasnevin Crematorium on Tuesday followed Mass at the Church of the Visitation in Fairview, Dublin.
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