'Always elegant, a citizen of the world' - Huge crowds at funeral of much-loved mother killed while walking with husband
Over a thousand mourners packed a church this morning to pay their final respects to a beloved local teacher who tragically died in a horror road accident last weekend.
St Mary's Church in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan was overflowing with members of the local community who bid their final farewell to Mona Frances Clarke (53) who died after being struck by a car while walking with her husband Dr Michael Clarke (60) on the N2 at Clonavogy on Saturday.
Such was the level of esteem that she held in the community that dozens more mourners waited patiently on the steps of the church in bitterly cold wind following her funeral Mass to wait for the crowd to thin out in order to pay their respects to her heartbroken family, including her daughter Evie (23), son Andrew (27), mother Yvonne O'Duffy, sister Dr Mary O'Duffy and brother Desmond O'Duffy.
Inside the church, pallbearers clutched each other in support as they brought her coffin, adorned by a single pink rose, to the altar where chief celebrant and local Curate Fr Leo Creelman spoke of a much loved local woman who was "so full of life and so full of joy."
Family members brought symbols of her life and achievements to the altar; a globe to signify her love of travel and her early life spent in Ghana and Sierra Leone in West Africa, a backgammon set to signify her love of games and her Master's Degree symbolising her career spanning over 30 years teaching English at Beech Hill College in Tinkeenan.
Fr Creelman paid tribute to Mona as a loving wife and devoted mother who was "wonderfully helpful and supportive to her family."
He also described her as "a calm and collected backbone" who was "welcoming and hospitable."
"Mona was a passionate educator and voracious reader. She led by example through an active and healthy life," he said of her love of running and fitness.
"Always elegant, she was a citizen of the world," he added.
Young family members offered prayers on behalf of Mona and her family to the emergency services who responded to the accident as well as the medical staff at St James Hospital who tried to saved her life after she was airlifted to Dublin following the accident.
They also prayed for "safety on our roads and those affected by unnecessary accidents like this."
"We also pray for Mona's community and her immeasurable contribution to the community.
Mona believed in equality of all people and we offer prayers for those faced with racial and gender discrimination."
The Mass was concelebrated by local parish priest Fr Pat McHugh, Fr Ramon Munster and Fr Brian Mac Cuarta, a Jesuit archivist from Rome.
Following Mass, family accompanied Mona on her final journey to the Lakelands Crematorium in Cavan for a private cremation ceremony.