Husband's agony for Roisin
Courageous Stephen pays tribute to loving wife
HE hobbled up the Church aisle on his crutch, behind the coffins of his beloved wife and his unborn child.
Stephen Connolly bore the marks of the horrific three-car crash that resulted in the deaths of his wife Roisin and two others in Monaghan last Monday.
But nothing would prevent the devoted husband from taking to the altar to pay a moving tribute to the love of his life from the Book of Sirach.
"A faithful wife is a safe shelter. Whoever finds one has a real treasure. A loving partner is something beyond price, there is no measuring their worth. A loving partner is a life-saving remedy, and those who respect the Lord will find true life as a person is, so is their love," he told the congregation.
Roisin (39) was brought to her final resting place along with her unborn child Catherine after a heartbreaking funeral Mass at St Mary's Church in Fanavolty, Fanad, Co Donegal.
Pictures of Roisin (nee Langan) and Stephen on their wedding day just eight months ago were dotted around the altar. Chief celebrant and close family friend Fr Pat McGarvey fought back tears as he spoke.
Fr McGarvey told how Roisin and her mother Kathleen had invited him to Christmas dinner, just days before she was killed on her way back to her home in Drumcondra in Dublin.
He was forced to cancel attending the dinner after a parishioner had died suddenly.
"But being the person she was, Roisin came and waited outside my house for 45 minutes to see if I could make it. What kind of woman waits for a man like that on Christmas Day -- a priest?" he asked.
Fr McGarvey said Roisin was "the happiest woman in the world" and was so looking forward to becoming a parent along with husband Stephen.
He said Roisin and Stephen lived for each other, which could be seen how they constantly looked after one another.
The priest jokingly referred to an internet clip of Roisin doing an Irish jig and said how she was a beautiful woman who always tried to look her best.
"Roisin had a beautiful spirit. Later after we sat saying the rosary, Kathleen, Stephen, Roisin and I decided to go down to the local to discuss how life had been for them for eight months of marriage," he said.
"We spoke of the birth [of her child]. Roisin had a twinkle in her eye. There was a joy, a pride, a hope for the baby and herself. She was the happiest woman in the world. The photographs (on the altar) capture part of that day. She had a broad smile," he said.
He added: "Let her life be an inspiration. Roisin played her part through to the end."
The Government was represented by Army Commandant Michael Treacy. A letter of sympathy was also sent by President Mary McAleese's office.
Among the many other people in the packed congregation were Roisin's friends from the Educate Together National School in Balbriggan and also representatives from the Donegal Association in Manchester where she lived for some years.
The offertory gifts brought to the altar included a GAA jersey from St Lawrence's GAA Club, a school project book and the sash which Roisin wore proudly when she was crowned the Manchester contestant at the Mary from Dungloe pageant.
There were further heartbreaking scenes when people lined both sides of the graveyard to lead Roisin and baby Catherine to their final resting place in the adjoining cemetery as the choir sang the folk song 'Mary from Dungloe'.