'She was always so upbeat and appreciative' - Shocked community pay tribute to murdered Rose
A SHOCKED community gathered in their hundreds to pay an emotional tribute to murdered pensioner Rose Hanrahan (78).
Limerick city centre came to a standstill as crowds gathered in mist and drizzle to pay their respects to the frail widow who was killed in her own Thomondgate cottage last Friday during a suspected botched burglary.
The brutal murder stunned Limerick and has led to national calls for greater resources to be devoted to protecting elderly people living alone.
Mrs Hanrahan was killed after it is suspected she surprised a burglar who had targeted her Christmas cash and who believed her cottage was unoccupied at the time.
But the crowds who attended Mrs Hanrahan's removal demonstrated their support for calls from Limerick civic and church leaders that the community unite to show their revulsion at the brutal and cowardly attack on the frail pensioner.
Limerick politicians admitted that the attack has now left many elderly people afraid in their own homes over Christmas.
The Mayor of Limerick, Councillor Sean Lynch, a retired garda, said the community had rallied to support the garda investigation and to help bring the killer or killers to justice.
He confidently predicted that the culprits would be caught.
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"There is no hiding place for them," he said.
Willie O'Dea TD, a friend of Mrs Hanrahan, said local people were left "shell-shocked" by the horrific crime.
Supt Derek Smart confirmed that gardaí have increased patrols around the Thomondgate and Kileely areas to reassure local residents while Age Action urged people to make an extra special effort to check on elderly neighbours who may be living alone and feeling vulnerable.
Limerick gardaí said they are "very pleased" with the response to their appeal for public assistance with the murder probe.
Forensic and CCTV security camera footage is now expected to prove crucial in identifying the killer and possible accomplices.
However, it will be several days before DNA genetic fingerprinting results are available to detectives.
Mrs Hanrahan's remains were removed from Griffin's Funeral Home off John's Gate in Limerick to St Munchin's Church.
Poignantly, the widow never missed Saturday evening Mass in St Munchin's - and was renowned amongst the priests of the parish for sitting in the same seat in the same pew for every Mass.
Some of the cash that Mrs Hanrahan had collected in her home - and which was not found by her killer as it was hidden in a secret storage place in the kitchen/utility room - was for the Christmas offering at St Munchin's.
The widow's remains were received at St Munchin's by Parish Priest Fr Donal McNamara who had helped comfort her five years ago on the death of her husband, Michael, a fisherman and former Limerick Civic Trust member.
Fr McNamara praised Mrs Hanrahan for her outlook on life and positive attitude.
"She had tremendous faith and she was always so upbeat, so appreciative for anything that was ever done for her," he said.
He acknowledged that many in the proud Thomondgate community were left reeling by the crime and the dark cloud it had cast over the community at what was supposed to be a festive time of year.
“Yes, there is a lot of anxiety and fear in the community particularly for people who may be elderly and who are living alone," he said.
Mrs Hanrahan, whose home on New Road in Thomondgate backs on to the River Shannon, was very involved in work undertaken by St Munchin's and was also a regular at local bingo on a Thursday evening.
The mourners were led by her sisters, Evelyn, Helen, Kathleen and Chrissie.
Mrs Hanrahan, a talented cook, was due to spend Christmas with her sister, Helen.
The widow was discovered dead in the hallway of her home last Friday when her sister, Evelyn, and her brother-in-law, Jim, called to check on her.
Mrs Hanrahan will be buried at Ballycannon Cemetery in Meelick after 11.30am Requiem Mass tomorrow (Saturday).
She will be buried beside her beloved husband, Michael.