Devastated family say goodbye
Published 30/10/2011 | 05:00
For John Jones, the father of Garda Ciaran Jones who was swept away to his death by a flooded river as he tried to warn others of the danger, it was the hardest goodbye.
During every moment of the funeral ceremony at the tiny granite chapel of St Bridgid's in Manor Kilbride, John had his hand placed tenderly on the coffin of his eldest son.
As the community gathered in final tribute, the River Liffey at the Ballysmuttan Bridge was no longer the torrent it was last Monday night, but there was a flood of tears in and outside the church as the young garda's friends, teammates and colleagues in the force joined his family for the funeral ceremony.
They heard a moving tribute to 24-year-old Gda Jones from his girlfriend, Clare Kennedy, who told mourners of "the pride of Kilbride".
She told how she had kept a diary as a schoolgirl, and last Thursday night, as she tried to make sense of his loss, she had gone through her teenage writings to try find something to say.
She read a passage from eight years ago, February 28, 2003, when as a 14-year-old schoolgirl she had recorded how Ciaran Jones -- "the untouchable 5th year" -- had begun sending text messages to her. "News of the century. . . I think he likes me," the diary entry ended.
"Months later, Ciaran told me he was going to phone me and I had written down a list of topics for a conversation should we run out of things to talk about, but. . . we were never stuck for words.
"Now I would write 'thank you for the last eight years. . . I loved you and I will continue to love you'."
She added: "Our hearts are broken but I have no doubt he will continue to protect us. . . he was the pride of Kilbride."
Ms Kennedy is a niece of RTE presenter Mary Kennedy, who spoke from the alter to explain the significance of the offertory gifts, which included a rugby ball and a Clondalkin rugby jersey, the team he represented, and a garda hat and gloves as well as his GAA club jersey.
The Wicklow GAA star died after being swept into the Liffey at the Ballysmuttan Bridge near his home as he came to the aid of motorists during torrential rain who he feared were about to drive into the flood.
Ciaran's parents, Brenda and John, brother Alan and sister Michelle were joined by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter for the funeral mass.
The coffin was draped with the Tricolour throughout the service, which was also attended by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan as well as many of the force's senior officers, Commandant Michael Walsh, representing the President, and Brian Purcell, the Secretary General of the Department of Justice.
Father Padraig McDermott described Ciaran as a "beautiful person" and a "leading light in our community".
He was buried with full garda honours at the ceremony after a slow march to his final resting place led by the men and women of An Garda Siochana, many of whom fought back tears as they bid farewell to their fallen comrade.