Devastated fiancee sends last Valentine to tragic air crash victim
A GRIEVING fiancee bade a tearful farewell to her plane-crash victim Valentine in the snow-covered Sperrin mountains yesterday.
In a thronged chapel in the tiny hamlet of Cranagh in Co Tyrone, Pat Cullinan (45), one of the six victims of last Thursday's crash at Cork Airport, was recalled as "a devoted son, beloved brother, wonderful uncle, perfect boyfriend, admired colleague and fantastic friend".
His fiancee, Tina Maratilova, wept as she followed his coffin into the church, alongside his devastated mother Rose, brothers Seamus, Kieran and Aidan and sister Mary Rose.
Among the altar gifts was a handmade book entitled 'Beginnings' by Ms Maratilova, which carried the inscription "Happy Valentine's Day xxx".
Later, his young nieces carried single red roses as they followed the coffin in soft snowfall to the nearby grave.
Mr Cullinan, a tax partner with KPMG, was described by colleague Eamonn Donaghy as an intelligent, hard-working man but someone who was also quiet, modest and private.
"He always strived to be the best and achieve the best. He loved his work but he loved his mother and his family and his girlfriend more," said Mr Donaghy.
After an early stint with KPMG, Mr Cullinan moved to London in 1995 to work for Coopers and Lybrand, rising rapidly through the ranks.
"He was involved in some of the largest international deals of the day, in many cases acting as a project leader for huge transactions involving advisers from all over the world," said Mr Donaghy.
During his time in the UK, he joined the London Irish rugby club and was a proficient player. He was also a keen cyclist and enjoyed walking in the Sperrin Mountains.
In 2000, he studied for an MBA at the London Business School and returned to KPMG in Ireland two years later. In 2007 he became a partner with KPMG.
"It was something he was very proud of but to everyone he worked with, he was still the quiet, kind and good-natured person he always was," said Mr Donaghy.
Among the other altar gifts were a silver plate, honouring his achievement of first place in a post-graduate accounting diploma at Queens University Belfast, an Irish rugby shirt and a Tyrone GAA year book.
Parish priest Fr Joseph O'Conor told the congregation that Tyrone GAA had found in Pat a "donor par excellence". Despite his considerable career, he had never forgotten his roots in the Glenelly valley. He added that, when at home, Pat took great delight in playing with his nephews and nieces.
Former colleagues from the international accountancy and business worlds attended the funeral, including Jean Paul Thrill, the European chief executive of KPMG.
President Mary McAleese was represented by her aide-de-camp, Capt Martin Larkin. Sinn Fein MP and MLA Pat Doherty was also present.