Mourners recall the beauty of a young life dedicated to peace
TWENTY-NINE white doves were released against a twilit sky in a symbol of love and peace that echoed across the hemispheres at a memorial mass for Jill Meagher, tragically murdered in Australia.
It was two weeks ago to the night that the "beautiful, bubbly and creative" young woman lost her life in a random attack on the streets of Melbourne as she returned home from Friday post-work drinks with friends.
Last night, over a thousand people turned out to celebrate her life at a Mass at St Peter's Church in Drogheda, Co Louth. It began with a silent and solemn march through the streets of the town by the Lord Mayor, Paul Bell, and members of the local council.
Amongst Jill's extended family present were her uncles Michael, Denis and John McKeon and Bill and Mattie Scott and aunts, Marie Burke, Catherine McKeon-Halpin, Helen McKeon, Margaret Clinton, Liz McKeon and Susan McKeon.
Many cousins and her husband Tom's parents, Kevin and Joan Meagher, were also present.
Representing the President was his ADC, Colonel Brendan McAndrew, while the Taoiseach was represented by his ADC, Commandant Michael Treacy.
Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, former Green Party Minister John Gormley and Australian Charge d'Affaires John Smith and his wife Glenda were also present, as were four news crews from Australia.
Jill's aunt, Catherine told mourners that her niece's life had been cut short by a "despicable act one Friday night that has left us all numb".
Monsignor James Carroll told mourners that Jill had been baptised in the church back in 1982.
A special message from Cardinal Sean Brady read out said Jill Meagher had represented the hope of a new generation of Irish people, who were making a future for themselves abroad.
Fr Oliver Devine, who had married Jill and husband Tom two years ago, said people from "Melbourne to Drogheda from Dublin to Perth from Boyle in Roscommon to Brisbane in Australia and around the world" had been affected by her tragic passing.
"What was it? Was it her warm smile, her lovely eyes, her intelligence, her imagination or her creativity and zest for life?" he asked. "She has touched the hearts of all of us even if we only knew her for a short time or even if we didn't know her at all apart from what we have learned from the media."
He described Jill as a "thinker, a composer of poetry, someone who wanted to make a difference."She often dedicated poems to her friends, editing verses to suit the particular friend she was writing about, he said.
One such poem (above) was written by Jill to her husband for their wedding day and printed on the Mass booklet.
Gifts brought to the altar by Jill's family included photos taken on her recent last visit home to Ireland and some of her poems.