THE family of murdered vet Catherine Gowing still carry "a great pain in their hearts" but are thankful for all the support through their "darkest days".
Neighbours and friends of the Gowing family, many of whom were visibly upset, gathered in the village of Kinnity, Co Offaly, to mark the first anniversary of the 37-year-old's passing.
Ms Gowing, below, was murdered near the Welsh town of Mold last year, where she had been working as a vet.
Welshman Clive Sharp later pleaded guilty to her rape and murder, and is serving a life sentence for the crime.
Yesterday, a framed picture of Ms Gowing adorned the altar of St Flannan's church in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom mountains where parish priest Fr Michael O'Meara told a packed service that Catherine's death had touched everyone but had knitted the community closer together.
"For all of us in this community, wherever we travel and however far away we are, the first question will always be, 'how are the Gowing family at home?'
"I always say, 'remarkably well, given the great pain they carry in their hearts'."
Ms Gowing's father John, mother Maureen and sister Emma thanked members of the public for their support through what they described as their "darkest days".