Girlfriend's goodbye to hero garda who died helping others
Moving tribute to 'the pride of Kilbride'
Published 29/10/2011 | 05:00
THE girlfriend of Garda Ciaran Jones, who was swept to his death during Monday's floods, spoke yesterday of her broken heart.
Clare Kennedy, a niece of RTE presenter Mary Kennedy, gave a moving tribute to her childhood sweetheart before a packed congregation at St Brigid's Church in Ciaran's home village of Manor Kilbride.
The 24-year-old Wicklow GAA star died after being swept into the River Liffey at the Ballysmuttan Bridge near his home in Manor Kilbride, west Co Wicklow, as he came to the aid of motorists during torrential rain.
Ms Kennedy said she had gone through her schoolgirl diary on Thursday night, in preparation for her boyfriend's eulogy.
"Before I read this though, I have to remind you that I was 14," she said, to laughter from the congregation, which included Ciaran's parents, Brenda and John, brother Alan and sister Michelle, as well as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Fighting back her emotions, she read a passage from February 28, 2003, when she recorded how Ciaran -- "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 for the first time and I had written down a list of topics for a conversation should we run out of things to talk about, but we didn't need them, 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."
Ciaran's father John kept his hand on his son's coffin, which 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 top officials, the President's representative Commandant Michael Walsh, 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 said: "I'm too old and I know nothing about Facebook but I've seen the many comments and if you want to know who Ciaran is you should go to Facebook."
Father McDermott paid tribute to the "confident", "cheerful" and "helpful" young man who "lived by the old values".
He told the Jones family that they could "be proud" of their son and brother.
"I think to myself how can any one man, not yet 25, come to have such a positive influence on the community?"
Gda Jones was buried after funeral mass in the adjoining cemetery with full garda honours. He was led to his final resting place by the Garda Band while more members of the force lined the route along with young members of Kilbride GAA club.