Thousands pay respects to couple killed in Tunisia terror attack
MASSIVE crowds gathered tonight for the removal of Larry and Martina Hayes who were killed in last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia.
Thousands turned out to pay their respects to the beloved couple and their friends and family, including their only daughter Sinead (30).
The couple, from Athlone, had been due to return home to Ireland on the day of the attack and were waiting for a bus to take them to the airport after their week-long holiday in the coastal town of Sousse when they were killed.
Requiem Mass takes place today at 11am at the Church of St Peter and Paul, with burial afterwards in the nearby Coosan Cemetery.
The couple’s remains arrived home in the early hours of this morning and reposed at Flynn’s funeral home, located by the Shannon River, before the removal to the church.
The removal mass was delayed for an hour due to the massive crowds who paid their respects to the Hayes’ family, including the couple’s only daughter Sinead (30).
The turnout “said it all” Fr Liam Devine told the congregation, describing the tragic loss of the “soulmates” as “unreal” and “unbelievable”.
“No words can adaquately address this sad situation this evening,” he said.
He said that the terror that has been associated with the Middle East and other parts of the world had now come to Irish doorsteps.
“It’s so unreal. You hear about the Islamic State and the atrocities. We push it to the back of our minds and we say it’s thousands of miles away,” he said.
“It’s here now. It’s in our town, it’s on our doorsteps. And it brings homes to us how cruel and how unfair life can be at times.”
Larry, known locally as Lonnie, had worked as a school bus inspector with Bus Éireann and his colleagues formed a guard of honour as the couple’s coffins travelled to the church.
Senior management – including the chief executive Martin Nolan and chairman Murphy – attended the service, as well as TD Denis Naughten and former minister Mary O’Rourke.
There will also be a minute silence in Bus Éireann locations nationwide at 11am, while flags at Broadstone depot in Dublin will fly at half-mast. Several books of condolences have been opened in regional bases.
The couple were also remembered at Athlone Town football club’s stadium where a floral tribute was opened. Larry’s brother Seamus played with the club and was also assistant manager while his nephew Anthony is a football coach in the UK.
The couple had been married for 32 years and had met at a dance over three decades ago.
Larry was a plasterer by trade and had been working with Bus Éireann for 20 years and Martina, whose maiden name is Kelly, is originally from Carrick, Kiltoom, Co Roscommon.
Meanwhile, the funeral of Lorna Carty - the other victim of the horrific terror attack - will take place on Saturday at the Church of the Assumption in Robinstown.