nl-oreilly-dermot-file

Folk singer and music producer Dermot O'Reilly died last Saturday of an apparent heart attack. ((CBC))

Hundreds of people filled a small church north of St. John's Thursday to pay their final respects to a folk music legend.

So many people turned out for the funeral of Dermot O'Reilly that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary had to issue an advisory that school buses in the Torbay area would be running late.

O'Reilly, 64, a founding member of Ryan's Fancy and a mainstay of the Newfoundland music scene for well over 30 years, died last Saturday of an apparent heart attack.

Friend Roger Lockyer said O'Reilly had a magical quality.

"If you were feeling down in the dumps, [with] one conversation Dermot would do everything he could do to make you feel better," Lockyer said.

"When you walked away from Dermot, you felt like a better person."

O'Reilly formed Ryan's Fancy in 1971 with fellow Irish emigres Denis Ryan and Fergus O'Byrne. The trio found fame across Canada with best-selling albums, concert tours and a CBC Television series.

After Ryan's Fancy broke up in 1983, each member pursued different careers.

Apart from his own singing career, O'Reilly founded his own production company in Torbay, producing dozens of albums.

"He was certainly a great producer, a very patient man," said musician Tom Boland, who recorded an album in O'Reilly's studio.

During the funeral, parish priest David Butler lauded O'Reilly as a man who always presented hope in his music. Butler said O'Reilly's death meant the loss of a great musician to Newfoundland and Labrador, and to Canada.