Tears for heroic garda swept from bridge in floods as hundreds pay tribute
THEY lined the road leading to the church in their hundreds, there to remember a garda who gave his life in an attempt to save others.
The tiny village of Manor Kilbride, Co Wicklow, was thronged last night with mourners who represented the different strands of Garda Ciaran Jones's life.
The 25-year-old garda, who was off duty at the time of the tragedy, was swept to his death in the River Liffey at Ballysmuttan Bridge near his home in Manor Kilbride, as he came to the aid of motorists during torrential rain.
Friends from the local GAA club carried the young garda's coffin through the village into St Brigid's Church.
Hundreds of mourners followed on foot, led by Ciaran's parents John and Brenda, his brother Alan, sister Michelle and girlfriend Clare.
Inside, carrying out one of the final acts of her term in office, President Mary McAleese offered her condolences to the Jones family.
Mourners included GAA legend and former Wicklow manager Mick O'Dwyer who had picked Ciaran to play for the county team.
Also present were Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore; Commandant Michael Tracey, representing Taosieach Enda Kenny; Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan; Brigadier General Michael Fynn for the Army; and Brian Purcell, the Secretary General of the Department of Justice.
Parish priest Fr Padraic McDermot described Garda Jones as a special hero and told of how the sight of his coffin on Wednesday brought tears to a group of fifth class students and their teacher.
"That is the effect that this young man had on our community. He was their hero and if you went in and asked the class, they all wanted to play for Kilbride, they all wanted to be captain of the team. He was their hero. And then he became a garda, they all wanted to be gardai like Ciaran. An amazing person and an amazing influence he had."
Fr McDermot said he had been amazed by the numbers who had paid their respects at the Jones's home the night before.
"I would say each and every person in this community went and visited that house and I wondered how one young person could have such and influence on a people and a community. And the answer was goodness and love."
Fr McDermot said Ciaran died as he lived -- doing good as he attempted to help those affected by the flooding.
"Ciaran's life ended in a good deed," he said.
Garda Jones will be buried in Manor Kilbride following 12 noon Mass today.
Also last night, a Mass was said for the other victim of this week's floods. Members of the Filipino community gathered to pray for Cecilia De Jesus (58) who drowned when water inundated her basement flat in Harold's Cross, Dublin.