A DISTRAUGHT husband spoke yesterday about the "21 fabulous years" he spent with his wife before tragedy stole her away in the prime of her life.
Mother-of-three Lynda Collins (45) was killed in a freak accident after she was struck by a falling tree on Waterloo Road, Dublin, as she walked home from work at ESB.
The devoted mother and daughter of former Fine Gael TD and Dublin Lord Mayor Fergus O'Brien was due to celebrate her 46th birthday last Friday.
Yesterday, in a moving tribute to his "best friend", her husband Richard, financial director with Superquinn, said he would always remember her amazing smile and told how he fell in love with her straight away after they met at work.
"It is devastating what has happened, to be cut down in her prime with so much still to offer," he told hundreds of family and friends who packed the Church of St John the Baptist in Blackrock to mourn her loss.
"I had 21 fabulous years with Lynda and nobody can take that away from me," he said.
Dozens of students from Willow Park primary school -- which Lynda joined as a pupil at the age of four -- and Muckross College attended the service, along with many of her friends and work colleagues as her remains were carried into the crowded church, where the chief celebrant at the Mass was Fr Laurence Collins, an uncle of Richard.
The Taoiseach was represented by his aide-de-camp, Commdt Mick Treacy, and mourners also included: former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald; Sean Barret TD; former TDs Nora Owen, Avril Doyle and Mary Banotti; senator Feargal Quinn; and ESB chief executive, Padraig McManus.
During the Mass, Lynda's daughter Georgia (14) recited a moving poem to her mother which ended with the words, "I love you forever Mum".
After studying in Trinity College, Lynda went to work for KPMG as a chartered accountant, and it was there the couple met.
"The first day I joined the firm I was introduced to her and she blew my mind away. I was a very unsophisticated northsider and never met anyone with such personality, confidence and genuine warmth. She was the one for me and I fell in love with her straightaway."
They were married two-and-a-half years later, he said, and went on to have three beautiful children, Georgia, Robert (13) and Juliana (7) and he could not have asked for a better wife.
Mr Collins also spoke of Lynda's devotion to their youngest child Juliana -- who has epilepsy -- and how she took matters into her own hands to devise the best treatment for her.
He also spoke of Lynda the builder, who went out of her way to find and renovate the family home which now stood as a monument to her drive and determination.